Faculty Profile: James Blight

James Blight
Professor (Research)
Watson Institute for International Studies
Work: +1 401-863-3584
James G. Blight began his academic career as a cognitive psychologist, but later turned his attention to a new method for investigating post-world War II U.S. foreign policy conflicts and crises. The method, critical oral history, makes use of memories of key decisionmakers, scholars, and declassified documents, to generate new data and interpretations of events. Professor Blight and his colleagues have applied this method to the Cuban missile crisis, Bay of Pigs invasion, collapse of U.S.-Soviet detente in the Carter-Brezhnev period, and U.S. war in Vietnam.

Research Description

Areas of Interest: International security, nuclear weapons and nuclear crises, the psychology and recent history of U.S. foreign policy.

James G. Blight began his academic career as a cognitive psychologist, but later turned his attention to a new method for investigating post-world War II U.S. foreign policy conflicts and crises. The method, critical oral history, makes use of memories of key decisionmakers, scholars, and declassified documents, to generate new data and interpretations of events. Professor Blight and his colleagues have applied this method to the Cuban missile crisis, Bay of Pigs invasion, collapse of U.S.-Soviet detente in the Carter-Brezhnev period, and U.S. war in Vietnam. He is the author of a dozen books on the recent history of U.S. foreign policy, the most recent being, Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle with the Superpowers after the Missile Crisis (with Philip Brenner, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002); Cuba on the Brink: Castro, the Missile Crisis, and the Soviet Collapse (with David A. Welch, expanded paperback edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002); Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing and Catastrophe in the 21st Century (with Robert S. McNamara, PublicAffairs, 2001); and Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (with Robert S. McNamara and Robert K. Brigham, PublicAffairs, 1999). Professor Blight has also served as a consultant on several documentary film projects with many domestic and foreign broadcast organizations and individual filmmakers.