Thomas Alan Schwartz is a historian of the foreign relations of the United States, with related interests in American politics, the history of international relations, Modern European history, and biography. His most recent book is Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography (Hill and Wang, 2020). The book has received considerable notice and acclaim. Harvard’s University’s Charles Maier has written: "Thomas Schwartz's superbly researched political biography reveals the brilliance, self-serving ego, and vulnerability of America's most remarkable diplomat in the twentieth century, even as it provides a history of U.S. engagement in global politics as it moved beyond bipolarity." Earlier in his career, Schwartz was the author of America’s Germany: John J. McCloy and the Federal Republic of Germany (Harvard, 1991), which was translated into German, Die Atlantik Brücke (Ullstein, 1992). This book received the Stuart Bernath Book Prize of the Society of American Foreign Relations, and the Harry S. Truman Book Award, given by the Truman Presidential Library. He is also the author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (Harvard, 2003), which examined the Johnson Administration’s policy toward Europe and assessed the impact of the war in Vietnam on its other foreign policy objectives. He is the co-editor with Matthias Schulz of The Strained Alliance: U.S.-European Relations from Nixon to Carter, (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Professor Schwartz has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the German Historical Society, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of European Integration. He has served as President of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. He served on the United States Department of State’s Historical Advisory Committee as the representative of the Organization of American Historians from 2005-2008.
Areas of Expertise (9)
American Foreign Relations
Modern European History
History of U.S. Foreign Policy
Twentieth Century American History
History of the U.S. Presidency
Lyndon Baines Johnson
The Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (professional)
Annual Alumni Education Award (professional)
2008, Vanderbilt Alumni Association
2008 Book Award (professional)
Chi Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order
Harvard University: Ph.D., History 1985
Harvard University: A.M., History 1979
Oxford University: M.A., History 1978
Columbia University: A.B., History 1976
Selected Media Appearances (10)
Brittney Griner pleads guilty in Russia, but experts warn next steps may have serious consequences
Fox News online
That sentiment was echoed by Tom Schwartz, a distinguished professor of history at Vanderbilt University, who called a prison swap in a high-stakes case like this a "slippery slope."
Biden Defiant on the End of the Afghanistan War
U.S. News & World Report online
"I think this was a disaster through and through, and could have been avoided. There was a political motivation to get out by the anniversary of 9/11," says Tom Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history professor who has written extensively about the intersection of foreign policy and presidential politics.
Disunion haunts U.S. on its 245th birthday
Vanderbilt University historian Thomas Alan Schwartz noted the country's challenges had changed since the tumultuous tenure of former President Donald Trump. "Our problems are really different now," he said. "I think Joe Biden's America is a calmer, gentler place."
Both sides in Israel-Gaza conflict lay groundwork for victory narratives
The Guardian online
Thomas Alan Schwartz, professor of history and political science at Vanderbilt University, said the recent flare-up was a “depressing example of how … domestic politics” can drive a violent escalation.
Bipartisan Disgust Could Save the Republic
U.S. News & World Report online
As awful as Wednesday was, "I actually agree with the hypothesis that this is a real opportunity for him," says Tom Schwartz, a history professor at Vanderbilt University. "I think he can come in and appeal to unity, to the sense of wanting calm."
Republicans Blast Democrats As Socialists. Here's What Socialism Is
The "S" word is a charge Republicans have leveled against Democrats for decades, says Thomas Alan Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history and political science professor. "Democrats have tended, through regulation and other ways, to be more empowering of the federal government and in regulating the economy than the Republicans," Schwartz says, "and this has been called socialism."
Trump not the first president to be infected in a pandemic, Woodrow Wilson was in the same spot a century ago.
NBC News online
“Wilson’s wife was able to conceal his illness by setting up a bubble around him,” Thomas Schwartz, a professor of history at Vanderbilt University, told NBC News. “They explained the disease as coming from overwork, something people would have believed as Wilson was known to be a workaholic.”
GOP unlikely to reprise role it played in Nixon’s 1974 exit
AP News online
“He’d been proclaiming his innocence and suddenly they’ve got this evidence showing he’s been lying all this time,” said Thomas Schwartz, a history and political science professor at Vanderbilt University. “We don’t have the equivalent of that now.”
Trump will likely survive his primary challenge from Joe Walsh — but history suggests that it could hurt him in the general election
Business Insider online
"I find it hard to see him as a serious challenge, electorally at least," Vanderbilt University political science and history Professor Tom Schwartz said of Walsh in a Tuesday phone interview with Insider. "There's not a lot of room to run to Trump's right in a way that Walsh is trying to do," Schwartz said. "Where Walsh could be interesting is the fact that he is media-savvy and he might be able to provoke Trump ... and get a reaction from him."
Former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony, like his report, promises an ink-blot test for partisans
USA Today online
President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have spent more than two years questioning the basis of the investigation derided as a witch hunt into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Selected Event Appearances (2)
The Arab Spring: Revolution in the Middle East
Samuel L. Shannon distinguished Lecture Series Tennessee State University
Henry Kissinger, Vietnam, and Iraq: The Problem of Realism in American Foreign Policy
The 2010 Herbert S. Schell Annual Lecture in American History
Selected Articles (3)
Kissinger at 90: Still a Force to Be Reckoned With?E-International Relations
Thomas A. Schwartz
2013 Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State and the most famous living American diplomat, turned 90 on May 27, and his birthday provided the occasion for several writers and analysts to reflect on the significance of Kissinger’s career and the continuing influence of his ideas. Robert Kaplan, in an extensive defense of the elder statesman in the Atlantic, argued without any trace of irony that Kissinger was “the 20th century’s greatest 19th century statesman” and that his “classical realism” remains “emotionally unsatisfying but analytically timeless.”
Henry Kissinger: Realism, Domestic Politics, and the Struggle Against Exceptionalism in American Foreign PolicyDiplomacy & Statecraft
Thomas A. Schwartz
2011 Henry Kissinger was the single most controversial diplomat of the 20th century. This article explores Kissinger's approach to the philosophy of realism in international affairs, his role in Vietnam policy making, and his most recent engagement in the debate over the Iraq War. It argues that Kissinger's realism, although philosophically consistent and having roots within his own life's experience, was always tempered by his desire to exercise influence within the American political system.
Legacies of détente: a three-way discussionCold War History
Thomas A. Schwartz
2008 Participating in this discussion about détente with two respected friends and scholars, both of whom have authored significant books about the subject of my current research, Henry Kissinger, compels me to confess that I have been strongly influenced by their work, and that this discussion threatens to be repetitious and even dangerously in agreement!