Melvyn P. Leffler

Edward Stettinius Professor of History Emeritus

(434) 924-6422
Nau 452
Office Hours:

Field & Specialties

History of U.S. Foreign Relations


B.S. Cornell 1966
Ph.D. Ohio State 1972


Safeguarding Democratic Captialism (Princeton University Press, 2017).


Peril: Facing National Security Challenges, co-edited with Will Hitchcock (e-book, University of Virginia Press, 2016)


Shaper Nations: Strategies for A Changing World, co-edited with Jeff Legro and Will Hitchcock (Harvard University Press, 2016).


In Uncertain Times: U.S. Foreign Policy After the Berlin Wall and 9/11, co-edited with Jeff Legro (Cornell University Press, 2011).


Cambridge History of the Cold War, 3 vols., co-edited with Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge University Press, 2010).


To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine, co-edited with Jeff Legro (Oxford University Press, 2008).


For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War (Hill & Wang, 2007).  

  • Winner of the George Louis Beer Prize, American Historical Association, 2008.


The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953 (Hill & Wang, 1994).


A Preponderance of Power: National Security, The Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Stanford University Press, 1992.

  • Winner of the Bancroft, Hoover, and Ferrell Prizes, 1993.


The Elusive Quest: America's Pursuit of European Stability and French Security, 1919-1933. University of North Carolina Press, 1979.


Most Recent Articles and Essays:

"Trust but Clarify: George W. Bush's national security team was beset with rivalries," in Will Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler, Peril: Facing National Security Challeges (e-book,University of Virginia Press,2016).


"National Security," in Frank Costigliola and Michael Hogan, eds., Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, 3rd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


"Defense on a Diet," Foreign Affairs, Nov-Dec 2013, 65-76.


"The Foreign Policies of the George W. Bush Administration:Memoirs, History, Legacy," Diplomatic History, 37(April 2013): 1-27.


"Victory: The "State," the "West," and the Cold War," in Geir Lundestad, ed., International Relations Since the End of the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Current Research

I am currently beginning work on a book on George W. Bush and American foreign policy as well as continuing to write essays about the cold war, political economy, and national security.

Awards & Honors

Miegunyah Distinguished Fellowship, University of Melbourne, Fall 2015

UVA Thomas Jefferson Award for excellence in scholarship, 2014 

Visiting Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Bologne, April-May 2014

Graebner Prize for career achievement and contributions, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2012

Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center, 2010-11.

Visiting Scholar, Christ College, Cambridge University, Fall 2007.

Randolph Jennings Fellow, United States Institute of Peace, 2004-2005.

Henry Kissinger Fellow, Library of Congress, 2004-2005.

Harmsworth Professor, University of Oxford, 2002-2003.

Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center, 2001-2002.

Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 1997-2001.

President, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, 1994.

Fellowship, Norwegian Nobel Peace Institute, 1993, 1997, 2011.

American Council of Learned Societies, Fellowships, Grants-in-Aid, 1973, 1984-85.

Lehrman Institute Fellowship, 1984-85.