Ronald W. Pruessen

Professor Emeritus, Department of History
Affiliated Faculty, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Centre for the Study of the United States
Ronald W. Pruessen

Areas of interest

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



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