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Dr John Bew

Reader in History and Foreign Policy

 
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King's College London
Strand
London WC2R 2LS
Email: john.bew@kcl.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (020 7848 7450
Fax: +44 (0)20 7848 2748

Office hours: Wednesday 3-5pm

 

Biography

I am Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London, where I am leading a major new project called the Grand Strategy Programme. The core aim of the Grand Strategy Programme is knowledge transfer: to bring more historical and strategic expertise to statecraft, diplomacy and foreign policy. It will also investigate the origins and future of the idea of World Order, with the support of a grant from the Leverhulme Foundation.

In 2015, I was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Politics and International Studies, which ‘recognises the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising’. In 2013-14, I was the youngest ever holder of the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy at the John W. Kluge Center at the US Library of Congress. In 2014-15, I held a Leverhulme Foundation Scholarship in order to complete my history of the concept of realpolitik. I was formerly co-Director of International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, where I remain a Senior Fellow.

I am a contributing writer at the New Statesman, where I write on foreign affairs and domestic politics. I have also written for the Times Literary Supplement, American Interest, National Interest, New Republic, Literary Review and Irish Times. My fourth book Realpolitik: A History, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2015. My fifth book, Citizen Clem: A Life of Attlee will be published by Quercus in May 2016. My 2011 book, Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War & Tyranny (Quercus and Oxford University Press, 2009), was the lead review in the Times Literary Supplement, and a book of the year in The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Sunday Telegraph, Total Politics, and BBC Parliament’s Booktalk. Previous books include a co-written work, Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country (Columbia University Press, 2009), which was named in Foreign Policy magazine’s Global Thinkers Book Club and as the best in its category in the journal, Perspectives on Terrorism. 

From 2007-10, I was Lecturer in Modern British History, Harris Fellow and Director of Studies at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, where I was previously a Junior Research Fellow. I completed my education at Pembroke College, Cambridge where I was a Foundation Scholar and a Thornton Scholar and attained a first class BA in History. I won the Member’s Prize for the best MPhil in Historical Studies, before going on to complete my PhD in 2006. 

Research Interests

My research interests broadly fall into the bracket of ‘history, strategy and statecraft’, with a particular emphasis on the role of ideas foreign affairs and political violence. Specific areas of interests include:

  • Grand Strategy
  • Anglo-American foreign policy since 1789
  • National identity, state formation and political thought in the British Isles
  • State approaches to terrorism and political violence
Publications

My fourth book Realpolitik: A History, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2015. My fifth book, Citizen Clem: A Life of Attlee will be published by Quercus in May 2016.

My previous book, Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny, was published in October 2011 by Quercus in London and by Oxford University Press in the United States in September 2012. It was named one of the books of the year by the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Telegraph, BBC, and Total Politics magazine, named by Jonathan Sumption QC in the Spectator books of the year and chosen by the Fondation Napoléon as ‘book of the month’ for March 2012. It was also recommended in the Foreign Office Christmas Reading list, featured on BBC Parliament’s Booktalk and as the lead review in the Times Literary Supplement where it was described as ‘unparalleled in its size and sweep ... a Life so nearly complete that it need never be written again’.

My previous books include Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country (Hurst and Co., London, and Colombia University Press, New York, 2009), which was named by Dr. David Kilcullen in Foreign Policy’s Global Thinkers Book Club and as the best book in its category by the journal Perspectives in Terrorism. My first book, The Glory of Being Britons: Civic Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Belfast (Irish Academic Press, 2009), was chosen as the inaugural book in a new series initiated by the Royal Irish Academy and recently reviewed alongside Castlereagh in the London Review of Books.

A full publications list can be downloaded here

Teaching

I run two BA modules:

  • Grand Strategy and the Foundations of Anglo-American Statecraft
  • The 9-11 Era: Anglo-American Foreign Policy Since 9/11


I also teach on the Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism MA core course. 
I am the BA Dissertation Coordinator for War Studies and International Relations

 

PhD Supervision

I currently have six PhD students under my supervision and will consider further submissions under the broad areas of:

  • British foreign policy since 1789
  • National Identity, civic culture and violence in British and Irish history
  • Terrorism and Political Violence.
  • The Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ and the peace process
Expertise and Public Engagement

I formerly ran a series of seminars at the Foreign Office, working with the Knowledge and Information Department, at which academic experts addressed Foreign Office staff on their areas of expertise. I am leading a project with the think tank Policy Exchange, to bring more academic expertise to the foreign policy debate in Westminster, working with politicians from across the political spectrum. I am also running a summer school in conjunction with the Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft at the University of Texas, for the next generation of foreign policy leaders.
In 2009, I was profiled by The Observer as one of the rising stars of the historical profession and in 2011 the Daily Telegraph named me ‘one of the most exciting young historians in Britain’. I have spoken at venues around the world including the British and European Parliament, the National Defence University and Library of Congress, and the Locarno Room of the British Foreign Office.
I have presented two television documentaries on BBC One and one for BBC Radio 4. I am also a regular commentator for radio and television for outlets such as CNN, BBC News, Sky News, Reuters, Monocle, Voice of America, and France 24. I presented a BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme on the teaching of British history in schools and its impact on social cohesion and have made a number of appearances on BBC 2’s The Review Show. 
In 2009, I was profiled by The Observer as one of the rising stars of the historical profession and in 2011 the Sunday Telegraph described me ‘one of the most exciting young historians in Britain’. 

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