6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual

Author Daniel Bessner examines why and how a generation of intellectuals left the groves of academe to enter the corridors of power in the middle of the twentieth century. To do so, he examines the intellectual and career trajectory of Hans Speier, a sociologist exiled from Nazi Germany who in the United States became the founding chief of the Social Science Division of the RAND Corporation, the nation’s first—and most influential—national security think tank.

Daniel Bessner is the Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Assistant Professor in American Foreign Policy in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Cornell, 2018). He is also co-editor, with Nicolas Guilhot, of The Decisionist Imagination: Sovereignty, Social Science, and Democracy in the 20th Century (Berghahn, 2019). His next book, The RAND Corporation: A History, is under advance contract with Princeton University Press. He has also written for The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and n+1, among other venues.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

Speakers

Moderator

  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    Woodrow Wilson Center
  • Eric Arnesen

    Fellow
    Professor of History, The George Washington University

Speakers

  • Daniel Bessner

    Anne H.H. and Kenneth B. Pyle Assistant Professor in American Foreign Policy in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington