Frank Costigliola

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

Ph.D., Cornell

Areas of Specialty

U.S. Foreign Relations, Twentieth-century U.S.

Current Research Interests

In June 2022, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) awarded me the biennial Graebner Prize, an honor recognizing lifetime achievement in scholarship, teaching, and service to the profession. In January 2023, Princeton University Press published my 541-page biography, George F. Kennan A Life between Worlds. Based on a multitude of previously untapped sources, this book probes Kennan’s inner life and his complex relations with Russia. Princeton also published a new edition of Kennan’s 1956 classic, Russia Leaves the War. The book includes a new forward by me that discusses, among other things, the startling epilogue to the book. This was a postscript that Kennan wrote but dared not publish. I found the epilogue in the typescript of Russia Leaves the War, given to me by Kennan’s daughter, Joan Kennan.

I am presently working on a totally revamped, fourth edition of Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations. Barbara Keys is my co-editor, and we are publishing the book with Cambridge University Press. The new edition will include essays by 21 historians, most of them mid-career, future superstars. The purpose of the book is to elucidate innovative methodologies by explaining how to research and write the history of such topics as the environment and foreign relations history or race and foreign relations history.

In 2014, I published The Kennan Diaries (W.W. Norton), which won the Link-Kuehl prize given by SHAFR for documentary editing. My 2012 book, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton) won SHAFR’s Robert H. Ferrell prize for best book. I am presently working on a biography of the historian Walter LaFeber. In general, I am interested in how the intersections between personal ties and political relations had an impact on U.S. foreign relations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Frank Costigliola grew up in Spring Valley, New York, the son of Italian immigrants who, for economic reasons, had to drop out of school after the fifth grade. At the age of 25, he completed his Ph.D. from Cornell and became an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island. His first year at URI, he began carving a homestead out of 20 acres of woodland, clearing land for a garden and pasture for a milk cow and steers. He helped build first a yurt, then a house, barn, and other outbuildings. He has been at UConn since 1998.

Costigliola’s first book, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-33, helped introduce culture as a topic in foreign relations history. His second book, France and the United States: The Cold Alliance since World War II, also dealt with the intersection of cultural with political and economic relations while suggesting how nations and their policies could be gendered as a way of valorizing or delegitimating them. His third book, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War, explored the intersection of personal and political relations, and the role of emotions, in the diplomacy of the Allied leaders who won World War II and then lost the peace.

Costigliola has lectured throughout the United States and Europe and has received fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, and the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute. In 2009 he served as president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Selected Publications

Kennan A Life between Worlds (Princeton, 2023)

“The Failed Freedom: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Freedom from Fear” in Jeffrey Engel (ed.), Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (Oxford University Press, 2016), 165-91.

“The Splendid Deception of ‘Doctor’ Roosevelt,” in Jeffrey Engel and Thomas Knock (ed.), When Life Strikes the White House (Oxford University Press, 2016)

“Reading for Emotion” in Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, 3rd ed. [Also co-editor of this volume] (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 356-73.

“Personal Dynamics and Presidential Transitions: The Case of Roosevelt and Truman” in Brian Balogh and Bruce J. Schulman (ed.) Recapturing the Oval Office (Cornell University Press, 2015), 34-50.

“Roosevelt’s Body and National Power,” in Emily S. Rosenberg (ed.), Body and Nation (Duke University Press, 2014), 125-46.

The Kennan Diaries (W. W. Norton, 2014; published also in a Chinese edition; winner of SHAFR’s Link-Kuehl Prize for documentary editing)

America in the World: The Historiography of American Foreign Relations since 1941, 2nd edition (Cambridge, 2014, co-editor with Michael J. Hogan)

“Kennan Encounters Russia, 1933-37,” in Choi Chatterjee and Beth Holmgren (ed.), Americans Experience Russia (Routledge, 2013), pp. 50-66.

“Pamela Churchill, Wartime London, and the Making of the Special Relationship, Diplomatic History (September 2012), 753-752.

Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton, 2012; winner of SHAFR’s Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize)

“Broken Circle: The Isolation of Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II” in Diplomatic History (November 2008).

“Reading for Meaning: Theory, Language, and Metaphor” in Michael Hogan and Thomas G. Paterson (eds.), Explaining American Foreign Relations History, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

“‘I Had Come as a Friend’: Emotion, Culture, and Ambiguity in the Formation of the Cold War,” Cold War History (August 2000), 103-28.

“`Mixed Up’ and `Contact’: Culture and Emotion among the Allies in the Second World War,” International History Review (December 1998), 791-805.

“`Unceasing Pressure for Penetration’: Gender, Pathology, and Emotion in George Kennan’s Formation of the Cold War,” The Journal of American History (March 1997), 1309-39.

“The Nuclear Family: Tropes of Gender and Pathology in the Western Alliance,” Diplomatic History (Spring 1997), 163-83.

“Kennedy, the European Allies, and the Failure to Consult,” Political Science Quarterly (Spring 1995), 105-23.

“An ‘Arm Around the Shoulder’: The United States, NATO and German Reunification, 1989-90,” Contemporary European History, (July 1994), 87-110.

France and the United States: The Cold Alliance Since World War II (New York: Macmillan, 1992).

Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984, 1987, 2010).

Frank Costigliola, distinguished professor of history, outside Wood Hall on May 31, 2022. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Contact Information
Mailing Address241 Glenbrook Road, Wood Hall U-4103, Storrs CT 06269
Office LocationWood Hall, Rm 321
CampusCampus: Storrs
Office HoursSpring 2024: by appointment
CoursesHIST 3516, Rise of US Global Power