David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachian Professor of History at Stanford University. His scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis with social history and political history. Kennedy has written over ten books; his first, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (1970), won the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) and won the Pulitzer in 2000 for his 1999 book Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Other awards include the Francis Parkman Prize, the Ambassador's Prize and the California Gold Medal for Literature, all of which he received in the year 2000. Kennedy was educated at Stanford and Yale. The author of many articles, he has also penned a textbook, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, now in its thirteenth edition. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
David Kennedy: The connection between fear and war? Well war is, or should be, a last resort in human affairs. It unfortunately is not always the last resort. But when it is, I think it’s often propelled by fear. Maybe not even a specific fear of this adversary’s role, but just a generalized fear of uncertainty about the future. I think nations are often driven to war by a very ______, generalized, free-floating anxiety about what the future might hold; and by the . . . it usually turns out to be vain hope that by force of arms – by the application of organized disciplined force, which is another name for war – that the future can be held secure, or at least less insecure than it would be otherwise. But that’s usually a pretty forlorn aspiration.
Recorded on: 7/4/07