I specialise in the history of the United States from 1945 to 1980. In particular, I am interested in exploring modern American political, social and cultural responses to some of the larger questions of human existence. This theme links my doctoral work on nuclear diplomacy with subsequent studies of memory and catastrophe, wartime atrocities, crime and punishment, religion and space exploration, and with my current research into the social and cultural history of the ‘big bang’ theory.
I served as chair of Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS
) from 2017-20. I also co-convene the Institute of Historical Research’s North American History Seminar in London.
Kennedy, Macmillan and the Nuclear Test-Ban Debate, 1961-63
(Palgrave Macmillan, 1998).
The Memory of Catastrophe
(eds Peter Gray and Kendrick Oliver) (Manchester University Press, 2004)
The My Lai Massacre in American History and Memory
(Manchester University Press, 2006).
To Touch the Face of God: The Sacred, the Profane, and the American Space Program, 1957-1975
, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
‘The mule on the Mount Wilson trail: George Ellery Hale, American scientific cosmology and cosmologies of American science,’ History of Science
, 2023 (OA online publication): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00732753231179330
‘”The Lucky Start Toward Today’s Cosmology”? Serendipity, the “Big Bang” Theory, and the Science of Radio Noise in Cold War America,’ Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
, 49: 2 (April 2019), 151-93: https://hsns.ucpress.edu/content/49/2/151
‘”Post-industrial society” and the psychology of the American far-right, 1950-74′, Journal of Contemporary History
, vol. 34:4, (1999), 601-18. [Reprinted in Barry Smart, (ed.), Post-Industrial Society (SAGE Key Debates in Sociology
), vol. III, (London: Sage Publications, 2010)].
‘Atrocity, authenticity and American exceptionalism: (ir)rationalizing the massacre at My Lai’, Journal of American Studies
, 37:2 (2003), 247-68.
‘Towards a new moral history of the Vietnam war?’, Historical Journal
, 47:3 (2004), 757-74.
Chapters in books
‘Attica, Watergate and the origins of evangelical prison ministry, 1969-1975,’ in Axel R. Schäfer, (ed.), American Evangelicals and the 1960s
, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013).
‘ʺI would too, wouldn’t you?” Regarding the deaths of others during the Vietnam War,’ in Andrew Knapp and Hilary Footitt, eds., Liberal Democracies at War: Conflict and Representation
, (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).