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Christian Ostermann Honored with the 2022 Harry S. Truman Award for His Book Between Containment and Rollback

Dr. Christian Ostermann, director of the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program, received the prestigious 2022 Harry S. Truman Book Award for his book, Between Containment and Rollback: The United States and the Cold War in Germany. An event to honor the book and Dr. Ostermann’s work was held at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum on September 20th. Dr. Ostermann was also awarded the 2022 Richard W. Leopold Prize for the book under the category of “best book on foreign policy, military affairs, and historical activities of the federal government.” 

Through analyzing recently declassified documents from American, Russian, and German archives, Ostermann demonstrates in Between Containment and Rollback: The United States and the Cold War in Germany how the efforts of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower from 1945 to 1953 during the Cold War era went beyond just building a sustainable democracy in western Germany and containing Soviet influence, but actively worked to undermine Soviet authority in eastern Germany through the use of propaganda, covert operations, economic pressure, and psychological warfare. Ostermann’s research sheds light on the more complex facets of American foreign policy decisions that took place during this time while also demonstrating how these decisions continue to influence global affairs today.

Dr. Ostermann is director of the History and Public Policy Program (HAPP) which seeks to bring historical context to public policy issues. He also oversees the Center’s renown Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) and co-directs (with Professor Leopoldo Nuti, Roma Tre University, Rome) the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project (NPIHP) and its Nuclear History Boot Camp. He created and leads the North Korea International Documentation Project (NKIDP) which documents North Korean politics and foreign policy. Ostermann envisioned and established the program’s award-winning Digital Archive—International History Declassified, winner of the American Historical Association’s Roy Rosenzweig Prize.

A historian of contemporary US foreign policy and Germany, Ostermann is the author of numerous articles and document editions.  In 2018 Ostermann was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Fellowships include a Senior Research Fellowship at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, the Harry S. Truman Library Dissertation Fellowship and SHAFR’s W. Stull Holt Fellowship. He worked as a research fellow at The George Washington University’s National Security Archive, with which he remains affiliated as a Senior Research Fellow. He has taught at Georgetown University and George Washington University and studied in Germany and the United States. 

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History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more