U.S Presidents

Rogers M. Smith: Politics and American Political Ideals

Rogers M. Smith

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Rogers M. Smith, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, for a discussion of political ideals and political realities in American history. He highlights the importance of building community and political identity by assembling coalitions around narratives that appeal to a broad audience while shaping policy agendas. Professor Smith compares the leadership of Lincoln, Reagan and Obama in addressing these tasks. He concludes with an analysis of how the issue of race has been approached as American political life has become...

Robert S. McNamara: A Life in Public Service

Robert S. McNamara

Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense and former President of the World Bank reminisces with host Harry Kreisler about public service, the War in Vietnam, and the dangers of the superpower confrontation during the Cold War.

Key Words: Cold War, Vietnam War, Nuclear Weapons, Defense Department, Elberg Lecturers, Kennedy, U.S. Presidents, Presidents, RIP

Philip Habib: The Work of Diplomacy

Philip Habib

In this 1982 interview, one the U.S. preeminent diplomats Philip Habib talks about his life and times as a foreign service officer and special envoy of the President of the United States. He reflects on great statesmen he has worked with, the difficulties of crisis management, and his involvement in the resolution of the Lebanon crisis, which won him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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Norman Cousins: The Quest for Peace

Norman Cousins

In this 1984, distinguished writer and editor Norman Cousins joins Conversations host Harry Kreisler for a discussion of the dangers of the nuclear arms race and his role in mediating communications between Kennedy and Khruschev at the height of the Cold War.

Key Words: Writers, Arms Race, Peace Movements, Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Presidents, Arms Control, Editors, RIP

John Shattuck: Diplomacy and the Shaping of a Human Rights Agenda

John Shattuck

UC Berkeley's Harry Kreisler welcomes John Shattuck, Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Library Foundation, for a discussion of his career and work in the area of civil liberties and human rights.


Key Words: Law, International Law, Human Rights, U.S. Presidents

John Kenneth Galbraith: Intellectual Journey: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

John Kenneth Galbraith

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, in a conversation with host Harry Kreisler, looks back and reflects on the art of writing, U.S. policy toward the Third World during the Cold War, political leadership, and on his intellectual contributions.


Key Words: Economists, Politics, U.S. Presidents, Writers, Cold War, Kennedy, Great Depression, Presidents, RIP

John Fabian Witt: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism and the Evolution of American Law

John Fabian Witt

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Yale Law School Professor John Fabian Witt for a discussion of the craft of legal history. Topics covered include: understanding context in legal narratives; nationalism and cosmopolitanism in the evolution of civil liberties and tort law; and the importance of slavery, emancipation, and the established laws of nations in the making of Lincoln’s Code, a revolutionary change in U.S. laws of war. The conversation concludes with thoughts on how legal history could inform a discussion of the sharing economy’s impact on the law.

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John A. McCone: Reflections

John A. McCone

Former Director of the CIA John A. McCone talks with UC Berkeley's Harry Kreisler about his student days at Berkeley, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the lesson learned from his distinguished career in business and government.


Key Words: CIA, Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. Presidents, Intelligence, Kennedy, U.S. Foreign Policy, RIP

Jane Mayer: How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Values

Jane Mayer

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes New Yorker writer Jane Mayer for a discussion of her new book, The Dark Side. She explains how, under the direction of Vice President Cheney and his Assistant David Addington,the Bush administration, contrary to American history and tradition, implemented a policy of torture and rendition in violation of U.S. and international law. She describes the resistence within the government and the military to these actions. Mayer also offers a compelling account of what happened to detainees under the Cheney/Addington regime. She also analyzes the long...

James Mann: The Bush War Cabinet

James Mann

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Rise of the Vulcans author James Mann for a discussion of the history of the Bush administration's foreign policy.


Key Words: Journalists, U.S. Presidents