Clements Center
Clements Center
Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security

Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security

George Washington University
Thursday, Oct 05, 2017   |   12:30-2:00 PM   |  Eastwoods Room (UNB 2.102)

The Clements Center hosted political historian Dr. Matthew Dallek, who spoke on his new book Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security (Oxford, 2016). 

Matthew Dallek is associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, a political historian, and a frequent commentator in the news media on politics, history, and public affairs. His most recent book Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security (Oxford University Press) recounts the fears of attacks on the home front during World War II and chronicles the epic battle between Eleanor Roosevelt, who proposed a wartime New Deal as part of “home defense, and New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who campaigned to militarize millions of citizens and build a fourth military branch in order to defend the lives of 130 million Americans against the threat of fascist militarism.

Dallek's first book The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (Free Press, 2000; paperback, Oxford University Press, 2004) traced the birth of the "Reagan Revolution" to the social turmoil of mid-1960s California. His book chronicled how Reagan and the right figured out which buttons to push and how liberalism responded to Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, civil rights, the Watts riots, and antiwar protests. His book appeared on the Washington Post’s and Chicago Tribune’s annual best-of lists. Dallek is also co-author of Inside Campaigns: Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals (CQ/Sage, 2016), which offers an insiders’ portrait of how political campaigns are waged and how campaigns can and often do help determine election outcomes.

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Dallek's essays and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the L.A. Times, Politico, Slate, Yahoo News, the Journal of Policy History, Reviews in American History, and numerous other scholarly and popular publications. His commentary has also been heard on numerous radio and television programs including NPR, the BBC, MSNBC, and CNN International.

Prior to arriving at GSPM in 2014, Dallek was associate director at the University of California Washington Center, where he taught courses on Congress, the Presidency, Washington's political culture, and language and power. Dallek has held fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, George Washington’s School of Media and Public Affairs, and the Alicia M. Patterson Foundation. He has also been appointed as a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. Dallek graduated from U.C. Berkeley with high honors in history and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia. After finishing his doctorate, he worked as a communications aide and speechwriter for House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dallek lives in Washington with his wife and two sons.

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