Professor of History

I was born midway between the outbreak of the First World War and the present.  The century that has elapsed between 1914 and the present is the central period in which I'm interested, both as a historian and as a citizen.  As interested as I am in the first fifty years of that time, I'm glad that my almost fifty years came after. But I think the last hundred years have set a lot of challenges for us over the next hundred years.  The history that we are able to recognize and learn about will be invaluable in helping us navigate the dangers that lie ahead.   I primarily teach modern world history at Maryville College: in particular, twentieth century  Europe and South Asia--the world wars, the Depression, the beginning of the end of European colonialism, and the framing of alternatives to colonialism. 

Right now my research is focused on thinking about nature, society and economy in the interwar United States, British Empire and Europe.  My best rationale for that is that it was in these contexts that our contemporary models for thinking about these things were framed during the world wars and especially the years in between.  In addition to these teaching and research interests, I also learn and teach about early modern world history and the Islamic world.  If I had more time, I'd spend at least part of it on the histories of the Hapsburg empire and Mughal India.

I like to hike, bike, travel , and (though I'm not good at it) learn languages.  I was born in Beckley, West Virginia.

 Publication: 

Book Cover

'One Valley and a Thousand': Dams, Nationalism and Development (Oxford University Press, 2007) examines how and why the building of large dams became a signature activity of the postcolonial developmentalist state.  Since 1945 the world's governments have built more than 40,000 large dams, often with disastrous social and environmental results.  The book analyzes the American attempt to "export" and the Indian attempt to "copy" the Tennessee Valley Authority of the American New Deal during the decades after India gained independence in 1947. It explores the ideas, plans and careers of a generation of Indian and American engineers, economists, administrators and publicists involved in "India's TVA," the Damodar Valley Corporation.