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Email: [email protected]

Francis J. Gavin

Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Director


Francis J. Gavin is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Previously, he was the first Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Security Policy Studies at MIT and the Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs and the Director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas.

Gavin earned his BA at the University of Chicago in Political Science, a MSt. from Oxford in Modern European History, and a PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania.

He has been a National Security Fellow at the Olin Institute, Harvard University, an International Security Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, a Donald Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas, a Smith Richardson Junior Faculty Fellow, a Senior Research Fellow at the Nobel Institute, Oslo, Norway, a Public Policy School at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Ernest May Senior Visiting Professor in Applied History, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. From 2005 until 2010, he directed The American Assembly’s multiyear, national initiative, The Next Generation Project: U.S. Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions.

Gavin is the Co-Founder, Co-Director and Principal Investigator, with James Steinberg, of the Carnegie International Policy Scholars Consortium and Network (IPSCON), and Founder and Director of the Nuclear Studies Research Initiative (NSRI). He is a Research Associate at the Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Senior Fellow at the Clements Center for National Security, University of Texas, a Distinguished Scholar, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, University of Texas, and a Senior Advisor, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC. He was a Non-Resident Senior Advisor, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2019 – 2021. Gavin currently serves on the CIA Historical Panel and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Gavin was the Managing Editor for the International Security Studies Forum (2015 – 2018), serves on the Board of Editors for Journal of Security Studies and Security Studies, is a Contributing Editor to War on the Rocks, and is the founding Chair of the Board of Editors for the Texas National Security Journal.

Gavin’s books include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958 – 1971 (University of North Carolina Press); Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press), Nuclear Weapons and American Grand Strategy (Brookings Institution Press), which was named a 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and The Taming of Scarcity and the Problems of Plenty: Rethinking International Relations and American Grand Strategy in a New Era (Routledge). His book, Thinking Historically: A Guide to Statecraft and Strategy is forthcoming.


  • Europe
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Climate Change
  • Cold War
  • History & Statecraft
  • International Monetary Policy
  • NATO
  • Nuclear Proliferation
  • Public Policy
  • U.S. Grand Strategy


The Taming of Scarcity and the Problems of Plenty: Rethinking International Relations and American Grand Strategy in a New Era, Routledge, 2024,

Co-editor, with Robert Jervis, Joshua Rovner, and Diane Labrosse, Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International Politics in the Twenty-First Century, Columbia University Press, 2018

Co-editor, with Mark Lawrence, Lyndon Johnson and the New Global Challenges of the 1960s, Oxford University Press, 2014,
Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, Cornell University Press, 2012, paperback edition, 2015, audible edition 2016
Gold, Dollars, and Power:  The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971, New Cold War History Series, Chapel Hill, NC:  University of North Carolina Press, 2004; paperback edition 2008; Mandarin translation, 2011,
Editor, The New York Times 20th Century in Review:  The Cold War.  Chicago, IL:  Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001.
Associate Editor, The Presidential Recordings:  John F. Kennedy – The Great Crises, vol. I and II.  New York, NY:  W.W. Norton, Fall 2001.

“Rethinking the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons and American Grand Strategy,” Texas National Security Review, vol. 2, no. 1, winter 2019
“History and the Unanswered Questions of the Nuclear Age: Reflections on Assumptions, Uncertainty, and Method in Nuclear Studies,” Michael D. Gordin and G. John Ikenberry, eds, The Age of Hiroshima, Princeton University Press, 2019

“Beyond Deterrence: U.S. Nuclear Strategy since 1945,” in the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Understanding the Nuclear Age, 2017
“Crisis Instability and Preemption: The 1914 Railroad Analogy,” in Hoffman, Levite, and Perkovich, eds, Understanding Cyber Conflict, Georgetown University Press, 2017
“NATO’s Radical Response to the Nuclear Revolution,” in Ian Shapiro and Adam Tooze, NATO, Yale University Press, 2018
 “Strategies of Inhibition: U.S. Grand Strategy, the Nuclear Revolution, and Nonproliferation,” International Security Summer 2015, Vol. 40, No. 1, Pages 9-46
“What If? The Historian and the Counterfactual,” Security Studies, Volume 24Issue 3, 2015
“How Dangerous? History and Nuclear Alarmism,” in Dangerous World? Threat Perception and U.S. National Security, eds. John Mueller and Christopher Preble (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2014)
“International Affairs of the Heart,” Yale Journal of International Affairs, September 2012,
“Politics, History and the Ivory Tower-Policy Gap in the Nuclear Proliferation Debate,” Journal of Strategic Studies, August 2012, pp. 573-600,
With James B. Steinberg, “Mind the Gap: Why Policymakers and Scholars Ignore Each other, and What Can be Done About it?,” Carnegie Reporter, Spring 2012,
“The Copenhagen Tradition: Rethinking Prevention and Proliferation in the Age of Deterrence Dominance,” with Mira Rapp-Hooper, commissioned paper, Tobin National Security Project,
“Same as it ever was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation, and the Cold War,” International Security, Winter 2010, pp. 7-37,
“Wrestling with Parity: The Nuclear Revolution Revisited,” in Shock of the Global, Eds. Niall Ferguson, Charles Maier, and Daniel Sargent, Harvard University Press, 2010
“History and Policy,” International Journal, Winter 2008,
“Nuclear Proliferation and Non-proliferation during the Cold War,” Cambridge History of the Cold War: Volume 2, Crises and Détente, 1962-1975, edited by Melvyn Leffler and Odd Arne Westad, Cambridge University Press, 2010
“Nuclear Nixon,” in The Foreign Policy of the Nixon Administration, eds., Fred Logevall and Andrew Preston, Oxford University Press, 2008
“Understanding Nuclear Proliferation in an Age of Globalization,” Globalization and Transatlantic Security, ed., Rachel Epstein, European Union Institute Press, 2006
“Blasts from the Past:  Nuclear Proliferation and Rogue States Before the Bush Doctrine,” International Security, Winter 2005, pp. 100-135,
“The Interests of France and the United States are Essentially the Same:  Reassessing Franco-American Economic and Security Relations during the 1960s,” in Les Relations franco-americaines au XX siecle, la direction de Pierre Melandri et Serge Ricard, L’Harmattan, 2003, pp. 101-116.
“The Gold Battles within the Cold War:  American Monetary Policy and the Defense of Europe, 1960-1963,” Diplomatic History, Winter 2002:  61-94,
“International Monetary Fund and World Bank,” Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, 2nd edition, edited by Alexander DeConde, Richard Dean Burns, and Frederick Logevall, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, vol. II, pp. 283-298
“Ideas, Power, and the Politics of America’s International Monetary Policy during the 1960s,” in Monetary Orders, edited by Jonathan Kirshner.  Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2002, pp. 195-217.
 “The Myth of Flexible Response:  American Strategy in Europe during the 1960s,” International History Review, December 2001:  847-875.
With Erin Mahan, “Hegemony or Vulnerability?  Giscard, Ball, and the Gold Standstill,” Journal of European Integration Studies, December 2000, pp. 61-84.  Also in Marc Trachtenberg, ed., Between Empire and Alliance:  America and Europe during the Cold War.  Lanham, MD:  Rowan and Littlefiled, 2003, pp. 99-126.
“Bretton Woods: A Golden Era?” in Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism, ed. by Ian Vasquez, Cato Institute Press, 2000, pp. 213-224.
“The Legends of Bretton Woods,” Orbis, Spring 1996, pp. 183-199.
“Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy in Iran, 1950-1953.” Journal of Cold War Studies, Winter 1999: 58-89,

With Hal Brands, “The Historical Profession Is Committing Slow-Motion Suicide,” War on the Rocks, December 10, 2018  
“The Last Word: Goodbye All That,” Passport, April 2018
“It’s Never Been a Better Time to Study IR, February 20th, 2018 Foreign Policy
“Un-Discipline Yourself: Reflections On Ideas For A Disordered World,” War on the Rock, July 12, 2017
“Wonder And Worry In An Age Of Distraction: Notes On American Exceptionalism For My Young Friends,” War on the Rocks, July 4, 2017
“Policy and the Publicly Minded Professor,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 2017
“We Need to Talk: The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” January 2nd, 2017, War on the Rocks
“Thinking Historically: A Guide for Strategy and Statecraft,” November 17th, 2016, War on the
Introduction, H-Diplo Roundtable, Or Rabinowitz. Bargaining on Nuclear Tests: Washington And Its Cold War Rivals.  Published by H-Diplo/ISSF on 16 November 2015
To Stem the Tide: Nuclear History, American Interests, and the Iran Deal, August 20, 2015, War on the Rocks
“Friends or Frenemies?: The puzzling foundations of the Anglo-American special relationship,” The American Interest, June 2015
Introduction, H-Diplo/ISSF Forum on Andreas Wenger, Roland Popp (eds.).“Special Issue: The Origins of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime.” Published by H-Diplo/ISSF on 18 May 2015
History and America’s Atomic Future: Four Questions on Nuclear Statecraft, April 15, 2015, War on the Rocks
Breaking Discipline and Closing Gaps? — The State of International Relations Education, February 5th, 2015, War on the Rocks
Created series, The Schoolhouse, for the influential digital platform, War on the Rocks, to generate debate, discussion, and original content on how academics can engage/influence the foreign policy/international security process
 “What New Academic Research Can Teach Us About Nuclear Weapons – A Symposium,” July 8th, 2014, The Monkey Cage/Washington Post,
“Why UT President Powers is the best at what he does,” July 7, 2014, Dallas Morning News,
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Nuclear Weapons: A Review Essay,” and, “What We Do, And Why it Matters: A Response to FKS,” H-Diplo/ISSF June 2014
“History, Security Studies, and the July Crisis,” Journal of Strategic Studies, Volume 37, Issue 2, 2014, pp. 319-331
Review of Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, “The Malta Summit and US-Soviet Relations: Testing the Waters Amidst Stormy Seas,” Cold War International History Project e-Dossier No. 40,
Review of Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, American Umpire, for Perspectives, Fall 2014
“Free to be You and Me,” review of Thomas W. Zeiler, “Requiem for the Common Man:  Class, the Nixon Economic Shock, and the Perils of Globalization,” Diplomatic History 37:1 (January 2013): 1-23,
“Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis,” The National Interest, October 26th, 2012,
“Hiroshima: An Uncertain and Contested Legacy,” Federation of American Scientists, August 6th, 2012
“Re-thinking World Power, from Shanghai to Silicon Valley,” National Intelligence Council: Global Trends 2030, July 23rd, 2012,
With James B. Steinberg, “The Unknown Unknowns,” Foreign Policy, February 14th, 2012,
“How Worried Should we be about Nuclear Proliferation?  Not Very,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2010,
Interview, “How to Deal with Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions,” PRI’s The World, March 9, 2010,
“Getting History Right,” McKinsey & Co., What Matters, March 31st, 2009,
“A Tribute to Elspeth Davies Rostow,” January 2008,
Review of William Glenn Gray, “Floating the System: Germany, the Uni   ted States, and the Breakdown of Bretton Woods, 1969-1973” Diplomatic History, Vol. 31, No. 2 (April 2007,
Review of “Architects of Globalism:  Building a New World Order during World War II,” by Patrick J. Hearden, for Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer, 2005, pp. 185-188.
Editor, “US Foreign Relations in the JFK-LBJ Era,” Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Electronic Bibliographic Guide, American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature, ongoing
“Both Sticks and Carrots” review essay of “U.S. Economic Statecraft for Survival, 1933-1991:  of Sanctions, Embargoes, and Economic Warfare,” by Alan P. Dobson, Diplomatic History, Spring 2004.
Review of  “Saving International Capitalism during the Early Truman Presidency:  The National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Problems,” Journal of American History, June 2003.
Editorial, “The Walt Rostow I knew and treasured,” Austin American-Statesman, February 22, 2003.
“Young Leaders Examine the World after 9/11,” American Council on Germany Working Report, Winter 2003
Review of “Seeing Diplomacy through Bankers’ Eyes:  The World Bank, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Crisis, and the Aswan High Dam,” by Amy Staples, for H-Diplo, August 4, 2002.
Editorial, “Harry Middleton set a standard,” Austin American-Statesman, Sunday, September 8, 2001.
Editorial, “How will Americans know when we’ve won?” Austin American-Statesman, Sunday, September 16, 2001.
“Choosing Tragedy in Vietnam,” Orbis, Winter 2001.
“Economists to the Rescue! (A Review of Eichengreen, Krugman, and Soloman),” Orbis, Spring 2000.
“The Presidency and the Fed:  The Making of American Economic Policy,” The Miller Center Report, Spring 1999.
“Acheson, Nixon, and the Politics of Deception,” Orbis, Spring 1999.
“It’s Not Pretty, but It’s Not 1929, Either,” The Washington Post, Outlook Section, Sunday, September 6, 1998.
Book Review, “The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy,” by Michael Hunt, for The Annals of Academy of Political and Social Science, September 1998.
“Wilsonianism Reconsidered,” Orbis, Fall 1997.