Paul M. Kennedy

Professor of History, Yale University

World-renowned historian of international conflict
and co-operation.

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Biography

Hattendorf Prize Laureate

One of the world's most respected and provocative historians, Paul Kennedy is internationally known for his writings and commentaries on global economic, political, and strategic issues. His 1988 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers remains of the most important works shaping the conversation about the future of the U.S., Russia, China, Europe, and Japan. World leaders such as Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali have called on Paul for information and advice; the U.N. invited him to draft their 50th-anniversary report, "The United Nations in its Second Half-Century". Now Paul is the author of a new book: a nuts-and-bolts history of the Second World War called Engineers of Victory.

Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War is a new kind of history: a look not at the commanders who led the Allied forces, but at the ordinary soldiers, scientists, engineers, and businessmen who made those leaders' visions come true. Paul tells the story of the inventions, the bottom-up decisions and the on-the-ground strategies that powered the Allies' astonishing pushback from 1943 to 1944. Engineers of Victory offers a much-needed restoration of the "the middle level of war" to its rightful place in history.

Paul is the author or editor of nineteen works, including Grand Strategies in War and Peace, The War Plans of the Great Powers, The Realities Behind Diplomacy, and the bestselling Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. His best-known work is The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a 500-year survey of how and why large nations rise and fall. Its controversial final chapter on the future of current world powers sparked an immense debate around the world. The book has never gone out of print, is available in 23 languages, and has sold close to two million copies.

One theme of Paul's work is international co-operation. His previous book was The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations, a history and evaluation of what Paul calls perhaps the most important institution of our time. This book grew out of "The United Nations in its Second Half-Century", the report he helped draft for the 50th-anniversary U.N. debate on the future of the organization. Paul also edited Global Trends and Governance, a practical guide to the key political, economic, ecological and social factors shaping the process of globalization. This book offers new ways of working together to cope with transnational problems.

Paul Kennedy is the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, Director of International Security Studies, and Distinguished Fellow of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University. He is a former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University, and of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Bonn. He holds many honorary degrees, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 2000 for services to History and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in June 2003.

Paul is on the editorial board of numerous scholarly journals and writes for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and many foreign-language newspapers and magazines. His monthly column on current global issues is distributed worldwide by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media Services. His research has appeared in such varied contexts as TV series on naval history and historical papers for the Defense Department in Washington, D.C. His next book is a study of Rudyard Kipling.

Books

Engineers of Victory

The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War

Paul M. Kennedy

Paul Kennedy, award-winning author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and one of today’s most renowned historians, now provides a new and unique look at how World War II was won. Engineers of Victory is a fascinating nuts-and-bolts account of the strategic factors that led to Allied victory. Kennedy reveals how the leaders’ grand strategy was carried out by the ordinary soldiers, scientists, engineers, and businessmen responsible for realizing their commanders’ visions of success.

In January 1943, FDR and Churchill convened in Casablanca and established the Allied objectives for the war: to defeat the Nazi blitzkrieg; to control the Atlantic sea lanes and the air over western and central Europe; to take the fight to the European mainland; and to end Japan’s imperialism. Astonishingly, a little over a year later, these ambitious goals had nearly all been accomplished. With riveting, tactical detail, Engineers of Victory reveals how.

Kennedy recounts the inside stories of the invention of the cavity magnetron, a miniature radar "as small as a soup plate," and the Hedgehog, a multi-headed grenade launcher that allowed the Allies to overcome the threat to their convoys crossing the Atlantic; the critical decision by engineers to install a super-charged Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51 Mustang, creating a fighter plane more powerful than the Luftwaffe’s; and the innovative use of pontoon bridges (made from rafts strung together) to help Russian troops cross rivers and elude the Nazi blitzkrieg. He takes readers behind the scenes, unveiling exactly how thousands of individual Allied planes and fighting ships were choreographed to collectively pull off the invasion of Normandy, and illuminating how crew chiefs perfected the high-flying and inaccessible B-29 Superfortress that would drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

The story of World War II is often told as a grand narrative, as if it were fought by supermen or decided by fate. Here Kennedy uncovers the real heroes of the war, highlighting for the first time the creative strategies, tactics, and organizational decisions that made the lofty Allied objectives into a successful reality. In an even more significant way, Engineers of Victory has another claim to our attention, for it restores “the middle level of war” to its rightful place in history.

Random House (January 29, 2013)

Reviews

ReviewTimes Higher Education
War MachinesThe New York Times

Praise

“Paul Kennedy’s history of World War II is a demonstration not only of incisive analysis and mastery of subject, but of profound integrity, and a historian’s desire to celebrate not great leaders but the forgotten scientists, technicians, and logisticians who gave us the tactical edge, without which the strategic designs could never have been achieved.”
— Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography

“Kennedy’s fine-grained analysis and suspicion of any one single cause—like cipher cracking, intelligence and deception operations, or specific weapons systems, like the Soviet T-34 tank—permit him to persuasively array his supporting facts. . . . An absorbing new approach to a well-worked field.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A fresh and stimulating approach.”
Publishers Weekly

The Parliament of Man

The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations

Paul M. Kennedy

The signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945 was an unprecedented development in the history of humankind. For the first time ever the world’s most powerful sovereign nation states came together to create an autonomous organization designed to, in the Charter’s own words, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war [and] reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.” Sixty years later, the U.N. still doggedly pursues that mandate, albeit not without difficulty and certainly not without criticism.

In The Parliament of Man, the distinguished scholar Paul Kennedy gives a thorough and timely six-decades-long history of the United Nations that explains the institution’s roots and it functions, while also casting an objective eye on the U.N.’s effectiveness as a body and on its prospects for future success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

Building on his expertise gained in drafting official reports on how to improve the U.N.’s performance for its fiftieth anniversary, Kennedy makes sense of the many commissions and committees, and how the organization’s six main operating bodies — General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (UNESCO), Trusteeship Council, Secretariat, and The International Court — operate and interact.

As a body, the U.N. emerges here for what it is: Fallible, human-based, oftentimes dependent on the whims of powerful national governments or the foibles of individual senior U.N. administrators, but utterly indispensable. In The Parliament of Man, Kennedy ably contends that “it is difficult to imagine how riven and ruinous our world of six billion people would be if there had been no U.N. social, environmental, and cultural agendas — and no institutions to attempt . . . to put them into practice on the ground.”

Vintage; Reprint edition (September 4, 2007)

Preparing for the Twenty-First Century

Paul M. Kennedy

Kennedy's groundbreaking book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers helped to reorder the current priorities of the United States. Now, he synthesizes extensive research on fields ranging from demography to robotics to draw a detailed, persuasive, and often sobering map of the very near future — a bold work that bridges the gap between history, prophecy, and policy.

Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Paperback Edition edition (February 1, 1994)

Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000

Paul M. Kennedy

About national and international power in the "modern" or Post Renaissance period. Explains how the various powers have risen and fallen over the 5 centuries since the formation of the "new monarchies" in W. Europe.

Vintage; 1 edition (January 15, 1989)

Topics

Paul tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Engineers of Victory

International conflict and co-operation

Videos

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Over the last two years I have seen over 200 presentations here at the [...]. Thus far, I have not seen a presentation with such extremely brilliant content as that of Dr. Kennedys!

Our local newspaper described him as follows: "Keynote speaker Paul Kennedy, a brilliant thinker, author and Yale University professor, floored the audience Friday with his insights on the rise and fall of four great global powers. Kennedy makes a good case for leaders of the United States to take a few refresher courses in history and geography, if they're interested in America remaining a global power."