Ronald W. Pruessen

Professor Emeritus, Department of History
Affiliated Faculty, CSUS and Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
Ronald W. Pruessen

Areas of interest

  • 20th century U.S. foreign policy
  • International relations


Main bio

Ronald W. Pruessen has served as the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy’s Director for International Partnerships & Research and as Chair of the Department of History. His primary research and teaching interests are in 20th-century U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Early work focused on the Cold War (e.g., John Foster Dulles: To the Threshold, 1888-1952), but attention to both transatlantic relations and U.S.-China tensions led him toward research on the over-arching global perspectives of post-1945 U.S. policymakers as well as the historical roots of “globalization.” He has also developed a strong interest in the relevance of historical research and analysis to the definition of current global challenges and the design of policies to address them.

Current research projects include:

"Cake Walks with Tigers: Choosing War and Making Mistakes, From John Adams to Donald Trump". The book-length study places the Iraq and Afghanistan wars into a longer-term trajectory of misguided decisions, considering both the consequences and the sources of problematic policy-making. Particular attention is paid to a penchant for amnesia in American leaders and citizens – a resistance to seriously engaging with historic experiences when confronting new challenges.


Select publications

Fifty Years of Revolution: Perspectives on Cuba, the United States, and the World (co-edited with Soraya Castro; University Press of Florida)

The Transformation of Southeast Asia: International Perspectives on Decolonization (co-edited with Marc Frey and Tan Tai Yong)

“A Globalization Moment: Franklin D. Roosevelt in Casablanca (January 1943) and the Development of ‘Development’ in U.S. Foreign Policy,” in Will Coleman, Stephen Streeter, and John Weaver, eds., Globalization and World History: Ruptures and Continuities.

Awards & recognition

1982: Nomination for Pulitzer Prize in Biography (for John Foster Dulles: The Road to Power.)

Two Social Science and Humanities Research Council Major Collaborative Research Awards — “The Stalin Era Research and Archives Project” (1988-1993) and “Globalization and Autonomy” (2002-2007)


Choosing War: American Experiences from 1812 to 2003
Obama in History/Obama as History
United States Foreign Policy Since 1945