Keith L. Nelson

picture of Keith L. Nelson

Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor, History
School of Humanities

Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies (CGPACS)
School of Social Sciences

Program in Religious Studies
School of Humanities

PH.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1965
M.A., Stanford University, 1954
B.A., Stanford University, 1953

Phone: Department: (949)824-6521
Fax: (949) 824-2865

University of California, Irvine
274 Murray Krieger Hall
Mail Code: 3275
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
America & the World in the 20th century; Soviet-American relations; war and society
Academic Distinctions
BA with Great Distinction
Phi Beta Kappa
Research Abstract
My research and writing have developed largely at the intersection of early interest in the European-American relationship with concern about the impact of war derived from teaching during America's Vietnam intervention. The traumas of the 1960's led many of us to reassess American ties with the rest of the world and, indeed, inspired some historians to investigate a largely neglected question: to what extent international conflict transforms the participating nations. Out of this inspiration grew a volume in which I dealt comparatively with the effects of the world wars and the Cold War on American history. During the same period I examined American relations with Germany in an earlier post-war era, publishing a book which focused on the United States' role in the Rhineland occupation, 1918-1923. In addition I became intrigued with questions of theory as they impinge on foreign relations, and at the end of the 1970s Spencer Olin and I found our perspectives sufficiently similar to collaborate on a study designed to show how a person's life situation and values influence theoretical notions in writing the history of human conflict.

In another exploration of the impact of war, The Making of D├ętente, I demonstrated to what a great extent the process of relaxation with the Soviet Union in the 1970s was dependent on the after-effects of the tragic struggle in South-East Asia. Other factors were involved, of course, including the growth of military symmetry, the weakening of alliance systems, and the increasing economic difficulties of both superpowers, but it was the Vietnam conflict that destroyed our sense of inevitability about the Cold War. In a later but related study, Re-Viewing the Cold War, edited with Patrick Morgan, a number of collaborators and I attempted to generalize about the way in which foreign affairs have impinged upon domestic matters in the last half-century, and vice versa.
The Impact of War on American Life: The Twentieth-Century Experience (1971)
Victors Divided: America and the Allies in Germany, 1918-1923 (1975)
Why War? Ideology, Theory, and History (1979) with Spencer C. Olin, Jr.
The Making of Detente: Soviet-American Relations in the Shadow of Vietnam (1995)
Re--Viewing the Cold War (2000) with Patrick M. Morgan
Professional Society
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
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