Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Areas of Specialization
American History; National Security Policy; Peace Studies; Academic Freedom
Men (women) make their own history, but they do not make it as they please.... The
tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.
My academic record in high school was below average at best although I attended one of the nation's premier prep schools in St. Louis. I graduated from Boston University with a 2.54 GPA and also attended Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate. I was advised not to proceed toward a doctorate after completing my master's program in political science. It took me awhile to find myself which I did once I was accepted into a history-doctoral program at Saint Louis University. I am a believer that academic performance as measured by grades through testing is less significant than the experience one gains in the classroom. I was becoming a change agent through the courses of Howard Zinn and Patrick Dougherty. I was involved in one of the most heavily publicized academic-freedom cases since the McCarthy Era as chronicled in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, several best sellers and other national media. As Bob Dylan wrote in “A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall:” “I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it.”
I teach American History and political science with a single purpose. Teaching is a moral act and my purpose is to improve the human condition in an open search for the truth. I will never abandon this principle and no one is strong enough to prevent me from doing it. As Dr. King said in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- HIST 104: US History Since 1877
- HIST 204: Hiroshima and the Nuclear Age
- HIST 221: American Foreign Relations
- HIST 226: Vietnam and America
- HIST 228: African-American History
- HIST 362: Capitalism, Socialism and Social Justice
- HIST 395: Senior Seminar: Academic Freedom, Wartime Dissent, and Constitutional Law
- American Protest Music
“Challenges to Academic Freedom since 9/11” in Matthew Morgan, ed., The Impact Of 9/11 And The New Legal Landscape: The Day That Changed Everything Vol. 3 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) 57-74.
“Hiroshima and Spinning the Atom: America, Britain, and Canada Proclaim the Nuclear Age, August 6, 1945,” in The Historian, (Winter, 2009) 805-27.
“American Imperialism and the Paranoid Style of American Politics,” in Jernez Kozar and Radopoggi, Necessary Discourse on Hysteria, Koroska galerija likovnih umetnosti Slovenj Gradec (The Gallery of Fine Arts in Slovenj Gradec), Released 2009, 50-55.
“Suspending Academic Freedom,” Illinois Academe, fall 2009.
“Teaching the Iraq War,” Academe, September-October, 2006, 118.
“The New McCarthyism and Academic Freedom,” Situation Analysis, Spring 2004, 21-35. [published at UK University of Nottingham]
History News Network, “Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal.” April 3, 2006. Reviewed by Juan Cole on his blog Informed Consent, April 3, 2006.
“Why Iraq, Like Vietnam, Is Immoral and Unnecessary,” History News Network, March 7, 2005.
“Should Respectable Historians Attend and Participate at Conferences Hosted by David Irving?” HNN, September 20, 2004.
“How I Define Patriotism,” History News Network (HNN), George Mason University, October 2003
“Terrorism from the Sky: The Destruction of Nagasaki,” New Ground, July-August, 2003, 12-15.
“American Swagger in a Dangerous Nuclear World,” History News Network, George Mason University, January 2003.
“False Dissenters: Manhattan Project Scientists and the Use of the Atomic Bomb,” American Diplomacy (March 2001). American Diplomacy sponsored by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies--a consortium at Duke University, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State.