This is the real story of how George W. Bush came to double-down on Iraq in the highest stakes gamble of his entire presidency. Drawing on extensive interviews with nearly thirty senior officials, including President Bush himself, The Last Card offers an unprecedented look into the process by which President Bush overruled much of the military leadership and many of his trusted advisors, and authorized the deployment of roughly 30,000 additional troops to the warzone in a bid to save Iraq from collapse in 2007.
This book developed out of the Collective Memory Project at the SMU Center for Presidential History, an ongoing oral history project dedicated to enhancing the historical and archival record of the George W. Bush presidency. The CPH proudly partnered with colleagues at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Harvard Kennedy School.
Edited by Timothy Andrews Sayle, Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands and William Inboden.
Click here to purchase and join us on October 22 for a full-day event as we explore the Surge through a daytime symposium featuring members of the Bush administration involved in the decision, scholars who have written assessments of the decision based on these new sources, and an evening keynote address by a special guest.
Following the passing of George H.W. Bush, the Forty-First President of the United States, we must postpone our event scheduled for December 5 – Impeachment: An American History.
As with the nation, we mourn George H.W. Bush’s passing. We also look forward to celebrating his life and legacy, and the institution of the presidency more broadly, and thus intend to reschedule our event in early 2019.
Thank you for your understanding and continued support of our centers and organization.
Jeffrey A. Engel (Center for Presidential History)
Jim N. Falk (World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth)
Jim Hollifield (John G. Tower Center for Political Studies)
The CPH is pleased to announce its schedule of events for the 2018 – 2019 year!
We are proud to welcome the SMU and Dallas-area communities to a fantastic lineup of events for 2018-19, featuring historians and scholars from all over the United States. Our events will explore a wide variety of subjects, from the history of impeachment, to the roles of religion and sex in politics, to the influence of military experience on political leaders. These presentations will explore the full range of U.S. and presidential history, from George Washington to Donald Trump.
Many of these events will be presented in partnership with other institutions at SMU and around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, the Clements Department of History, the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
|The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War (November 2, 2018)
Long lost stories of physical altercations, weapons being drawn, and duels on the floors of congress and how they contributed to the impending civil war.Impeachment: An American History (December 5, 2018)
Only three times has a president’s conduct led to such political disarray as to warrant his potential removal from office, transforming a political crisis into a constitutional one.
Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (February 18, 2019)
A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked everything to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.
When they Come Home: Soldiers and American Society From the Revolution to the War on Terror (May 2, 2019)
This event will explore how each generation of soldiers left a unique imprint on American society and the parallels between the post-war experiences over several centuries of conflict.
Our events are free and open to the public. Registration for each event opens about three weeks before the event date.
To receive email updates on events, sign up for our mailing list here. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
The Center for Presidential History is pleased to welcome two new postdoctoral fellows to SMU for the 2018-2019 academic year: Dr. Gregory Brew and Dr. Lizzie Ingleson.
Gregory Brew completed his PhD in U.S. International History at Georgetown University in Spring 2018. Greg’s book project is Mandarins, Paladins, and Pahlavis: The International Energy System, the United States and the Dual Integration of Oil in Iran, 1925-1964. The manuscript explores the relationship between oil and development in Iran during the mid-20th century, and the origins of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Brew’s work has appeared in Iranian Studies, International History Review and Mediterranean Quarterly and has received support from the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and the Rockefeller Archive Center.
Lizzie Ingleson arrives at the CPH after completing her PhD in History from the University of Sydney in 2017. Her current book project, Making Made in China: Race, Politics, and Labor in Sino-American Trade, 1972-1978, examines the relationships between trade, diplomacy, and labor in the origins of the U.S.-China trade relationship. Ingelson’s work has been supported by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, SHAFR, and the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to commencing her PhD, she worked at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra.
Brew and Ingleson join current CPH postdoctoral fellows Lindsay Chervinsky (PhD, UC-Davis) and Blake Earle (PhD, Rice).
The CPH is pleased to announce its schedule of events for the 2017 – 2018 year!
Click here for a full list of our events.
The theme for this year is “America’s Place in the World.” Featuring presentations from historians and scholars from all over the United States, we will explore how America has interacted with foreign nations in the past and how it has affected our international policy and positions today. Many of our events will be presented in partnership with other institutions, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, and the Division of Music in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.
- Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film (October 26, 2017)
- The moving, untold family story behind Abraham Zapruder’s film footage of the Kennedy assassination, presented by Alexandra Zapruder, Abraham’s granddaughter.
- When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War (November 14, 2017)
- Based on unprecedented access to previously classified documents and dozens of interviews with key policymakers, here is the untold story of how George H. W. Bush faced a critical turning point of history—the end of the Cold War. Includes a book sale and signing with our own Jeffrey Engel.
- How Van Cliburn Got to Moscow (February 20, 2018)
- In partnership with SMU’s Meadows School of Music, Danielle Fosler-Lussier of Ohio State University explores the life of famed pianist Van Cliburn, and how musicians like him got to Moscow during the height of the Cold War.
- Southern Belles, Washington Balls, and Dixie’s Reach: How Southern First Ladies Changed America’s Compass (March 28, 2018)
- A day long panel conference featuring various speakers on the impact of Southern First Ladies.
Our events are free and open to the public.
Registration for each event opens about three weeks before the event date.
To receive email updates on events, sign up for our mailing list here.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
The Center for Presidential History will soon see the publication of When Life Strikes the President: Death, Scandal, and Illness in the White House (Oxford University Press, 2017), based on the 2014 conference of a similar name.
Americans demand much from their presidents. They practically require them to be superhuman no matter the circumstance: cool in moments of stress, compassionate in times of tragedy, steadfast in time of war. Yet they are also human, and sometimes, life strikes even the White House. Death can touch their family. They can fall ill. Their personal judgment can lapse. Everyday citizens typically ride out in privacy such personal trials. A president does not have that option. They have a moral, legal, and most profoundly ethical responsibility to their office no matter what might be occurring in their private life. Indeed, at crucial points in the annals of the presidency, personal crises have affected a president’s ability to lead, and even altered the nation’s course.
Edited by Jeffrey Engel and Thomas Knock, this book collects the work of our nation’s foremost historians, writers, and leaders. When Life Strikes the President will be released March 2017 through Oxford University Press. Chapter contributors include: Aaron Crawford, Daniel Feller, Kiron Skinner, William Chafe, Michael Holt, Michael Burlingame, Amity Shlaes, David Nasaw, Thomas Knock, Frank Costigliola, Jeremi Suri, and Randall Woods.
The CPH Writing Fellow for the Spring of 2017 is Professor Kate Carté Engel, Associate Professor of History in the William P. Clements Department of History at SMU. Carté Engel is completing a manuscript about how the American Revolution transformed international Protestant communities, and the idea of religion itself.
The CPH supports scholars at its home institution of Southern Methodist University. This Writing Fellowship provides an SMU scholar in the final stages of their manuscript project with a one-semester sabbatical from teaching.
We are thrilled to announce that two scholars will be joining the CPH in the Fall of 2016 as postdoctoral fellows:
Sarah R. Coleman is a historian of post-1945 U.S. political history with a focus on domestic policy development. Sarah received her PhD from the Department of History at Princeton University. Her book manuscript explores the shifting politics of immigration policy in the last quarter of he twentieth century. Before returning to academia, Sarah worked in the White House as a senior policy analyst focused on domestic policy and justice issues and on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.
Paul Renfro studies twentieth century U.S. history with thematic interests in political culture, childhood, region, and gender/sexuality. Renfro received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa, where he was a Louis Pelzer Dissertation Fellow. His book manuscript, tentatively titled Stranger Danger: The Politics of Child Safety in the Age of Reagan, centers on the missing children scare of the late twentieth century.
The CPH maintains an active and competitive postdoctoral fellowship program. These two-year fellowships provide a junior scholar first and foremost with time and resources to complete their book manuscript. The position also provides an opportunity to enhance their overall scholarly profile by participating in the Collective Memory Project and in the overall life of the CPH. For more information, click here.
In case you missed the final CPH event of 2015 — “Hailing Columbia: Music and Politics in the Founding Era” — a video of the forum is now available.
This recording is the property of C-SPAN and may only be used for research and teaching purposes. It cannot be copied or reproduced for profit. © 2015
The event featured Professor Kirsten Wood of Florida International University. With the help of musicians from SMU Meadows School of the Arts, Dr. Wood provided attendees with an opportunity to listen to the music of the early republic and understand the political and metaphysical purposes behind the programming of such songs as “Hail Columbia,” “Jefferson and Liberty,” and “To Anacreon in Heaven,” better known today as the melody for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Professor Wood discussed the many political purposes of music during the founding era of the United States, including its use as a tool of political manipulation, taunting of adversaries, and enjoyment during Independence celebrations.
The Center for Presidential History has released two books which are now available for purchase.
The Four Freedoms: FDR and the Evolution of an American Idea
Edited by Jeffrey A. Engel, this book includes seven essays by top scholars, exploring how each of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms evolved over time, for Americans and for the wider world. It was published on December 21, 2015 by Oxford University Press.
Purchase: Oxford University Press | Amazon
Click here to watch the accompanying conference.
Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics
This book highlights some of the ways in which religion is impacting the most important political, social, and cultural issues of the current era. The sixteen contributors reveal how faith is shaping modern America, and how modern America is shaping faith. It was published on December 24, 2015 by Oxford University Press.
Purchase: Oxford University Press | Amazon
Click here to watch the accompanying conference.