David Milne

David Milne


  • 4.13 Arts

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Diplomatic History; Intellectual History; History of U.S. Foreign Relations.

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Personal profile


A graduate of the LSE and the University of Cambridge, David Milne is a historian of U.S. foreign policy. His first monograph America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War was published in 2008 by Hill and Wang and reviewed to acclaim in over thirty outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The National Interest, Diplomatic History and the American Historical Review. In 2011 the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times journalist Stephen Glain named America’s Rasputin one of his five “must-read” books on American militarism for thebrowser.com.

David’s second book is an intellectual history of U.S. foreign policy from the Spanish-American War to the present. Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy was published in 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and was reviewed to acclaim in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Review of Books, Dallas Morning News, Foreign Affairs, and many other outlets. In 2016, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History selected Worldmaking as an "honorable mention" for its annual book prize.  

Dr. Milne is also a senior editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History (NY: OUP, 2013). He was a Fox International Fellow at Yale University in 2003, a senior fellow at the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History in New York City in 2005, and a visiting fellow at the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia in 2009. David has also secured funding from the Kennedy Library, the Johnson Library, the British Academy, and was awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship in 2011.

David is currently writing a biography of the trailblazing Chicago Tribune journalist, Sigrid Schultz. The first woman, in 1925, to become bureau chief for a U.S. newspaper, an ally to Gustav Stresemann, interviewer of Hitler, and prescient analyst of Nazism, Schultz overcame significant obstacles – as a woman in a male dominated milieu; as a foreign journalist working a totalitarian state; and as an interventionist at an isolationist newspaper – throughout a remarkable career. ' The British journalist Quentin Reynolds believed Schultz's incisive reporting for the Chicago Tribune made her 'Hitler’s greatest enemy.' The book is under contract with Oxford University Press.

In addition to the above, David’s research has appeared in The Journal of Military History, Review of International Studies, International Affairs, Diplomatic History, the International Journal, and the Historical Journal. David has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The NationForeign Policy, and The New Statesman. More information on David's work can be found at davidmilne.info

Key Research Interests and Expertise

David Milne is interested in the connections between ideas and policy in the history of America's foreign relations. His first book was a study of Walt Whitman Rostow, a prominent social scientist and an architect of the Vietnam War. Entitled America's Rasputin (Averell Harriman's acid nickname for Rostow), the book was published in 2008 to reviews in The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The National Interest, The Weekly Standard, and The Nation. The philosopher John Gray described the book as "absorbing... A book that vividly illuminates the dangers of ideology in foreign policy, America's Rasputin could not be more timely."

David is currently working on a second book which examines the interplay between nine intellectuals who played a pivotal role in shaping the way America viewed its place in the world: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Beard, Walter Lippmann, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz and Barack Obama. Rather than examining U.S. foreign policy through the prism of realism vs idealism, it suggests that art vs science is an intellectual binary that offers greater enlightnement.

Each of the individuals in the book approached foreign policymaking with contrasting manners of thought and expression – their education and subsequent disciplinary preferences were quite different. Some were drawn primarily to history, philosophy and literature – like Mahan, Kennan and Kissinger – which tended to impart a sense of tragedy, caution, and a reluctance to depart from observed historical precedent. But others, including Wilson, Nitze and Wolfowitz, were trained in the social sciences – political science, economics, psychology, and later the fledgling discipline of international relations – and were more inclined to view the world as “makeable” following the identification and application of the appropriate patterns and theories. Conceived as an intellectual history of U.S. foreign policy, Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy will be published in 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Key Responsibilities


US foreign policy; Cold War; intellectuals and diplomacy.

Teaching Interests

David Milne teaches undergraduate and postgraduate modules on American politics and the history of its international relations. He would welcome applications from research students working in the fields of American foreign policy and history, political biography, and the way in which different knowledge-types inform diplomatic practice. Past and current PhD students have written on the Reagan presidency, US policy in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, the origins of the Powell Doctrine, and the progressive influence on the New Deal.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

External positions

External Examiner for the MPhil in American History, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 20151 Oct 2018