Research

March 20, 2016 at 1:52 pm

History Student Gets Best Paper Prize from Society for Military History

Seth Givens, a history doctoral candidate, poses with files from the Cornelius Ryan Collection in the Mahn Center at Alden Library on Friday, September 27, 2013. (Photo by Tyler Stabile/University Libraries)

Seth Givens, a history doctoral candidate, poses with files from the Cornelius Ryan Collection in the Mahn Center at Alden Library. (Photo by Tyler Stabile/University Libraries)

The Society for Military History and the First Division Museum at Cantigny has awarded Seth Givens, Ph.D. student in the History Department, the Kevin J. Carroll Award for Best Graduate Student Paper in Military History.

Givens received the award for “‘The Defense of Berlin Starts at the Mekong’: Lyndon Johnson and the Cold War’s Frontier City,” which he presented at the Missouri Valley History Conference earlier this March 2016. His paper analyzes how the Lyndon B. Johnson administration viewed Berlin from 1963 to 1968. It attempts to break the singular emphasis on Johnson and Vietnam to judge how the Cold War outside Berlin affected the city, as well as how Berlin affected the Cold War elsewhere. Givens’s argument draws on documents from the National Archives as well as the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential libraries, and he argues that the Johnson administration used the city as leverage against both enemies and allies alike.

Givens is currently completing his dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, Associate Professor of History at Ohio University. Titled “Cold War Capital: The United States and the Fight for Berlin, 1945-1994,” Givens’s dissertation focuses on Berlin’s role in U.S. and allied policy and strategy toward Europe throughout the Cold War—from the arrival of U.S. forces there in 1945 until their departure in 1994. For decades, scholars have focused on the “Berlin Crises” (the 1948 Soviet blockade and the 1961 East German construction of the Berlin Wall) claiming that Berlin was nothing more than a liability to the West.

Givens’s research looks beyond these crises and makes an original contribution to the historiography by arguing that U.S. leaders took a militarily indefensible position and transformed it into a means to achieve strategic, diplomatic, and political ends within the global Cold War.

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