Book News! – The Last Card: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq


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.

Event POSTPONED – “Impeachment: An American History”

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)

2018-2019 Events – Center for Presidential History

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.

Highlights include:

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.


For a full list of our event, click here.

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.

Announcing CPH Postdoctoral Fellows for 2018-2019

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).