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Elizabeth Cobbs

Description : Elizabeth Cobbs holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University and is a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. She is a historian, commentator, and author of six books including two novels, a textbook, and three non-fiction works.She is also credited as screenwriter on the film adaptation of her book American Umpire.Elizabeth Cobbs was born on July 28, 1956, in Gardena, California. Cobbs studied literature at the University of California, San Dieg... Page:e214

Elizabeth Cobbs
Born(1956-07-28) July 28, 1956 (age 60)
Gardena, California
OccupationWriter, lecturer, hstorian, professor, producer
Alma materUniversity of California, San Diego
SubjectHistory, Literature/Writing
Notable worksThe Hamilton Affair, American Umpire, Broken Promises, The Rich Neighbor Policy, All You Need Is Love, Major Problems in American History
Notable awardsSan Diego Book Award
Years active1971–present
SpouseJames Shelley
ChildrenGregory Shelby and Victoria Shelby

Elizabeth Cobbs holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University and is a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. She is a historian, commentator, and author of six books including two novels, a textbook, and three non-fiction works.

She is also credited as screenwriter on the film adaptation of her book American Umpire.


Elizabeth Cobbs was born on July 28, 1956, in Gardena, California. Cobbs studied literature at the University of California, San Diego and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1983. She earned her M.A. and PhD in American History from Stanford University in 1988. While at Stanford, she won the David Potter Award for Outstanding History Graduate Student. Following graduation, she won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians for best dissertation on U.S. history.

She taught nine years at the University of San Diego, becoming chair of the History Department, and then accepted the Dwight E. Stanford Chair in of American Foreign Relations at San Diego State University.She has been a Fulbright scholar in Ireland and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C

Elizabeth Cobbs served on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2008 and also served two terms on the Historical Advisory Committee of the US State Department from 1999 to 2006. She advised the government on the declassification of top secret documents and transparency in government.

Professional background

Elizabeth Cobbs started her writing career at the age of 15 as a community organizer and publications coordinator for the Center for Women's Studies and Services in Southern California. During this period, she founded and headed several innovative projects for adults and young people. In recognition for her efforts, she earned the international John D. Rockefeller Youth Award in 1979, at the age of 23 for exceptional service to humanity.

Books and publications

Elizabeth Cobbs has published over 40 articles in newspapers and magazines in the United States such as The Jerusalem Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Reuters, China Daily News, National Public Radio, Washington Independent, San Diego Union Tribune and several other distinguished publications, including several pieces for The New York Times. Her first nonfiction book was The Rich Neighbor Policy, she has since written five more books about American history and politics.

Elizabeth also wrote and co-produced the PBS documentary American Umpire which is based on her book of the same name. It explores America's foreign policy "grand strategy" for the next 50 years.

Her first non-fiction book The Rich Neighbor Policy claimed the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians and also the Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

The Rich Neighbor Policy: Rockefeller and Kaiser in Brazil

Yale University Press published The Rich Neighbor Policy in 1992. It is a detailed explanation of the complicated relationship which existed between the private and public sectors in the operations of the U.S capitalism in Latin America after the World War II. The book focuses on the activities of the manufacturing and financial magnates, Henry Kaiser and Nelson Rockefeller, in Brazil. The pair transferred American technology and techniques to enhance the development of Brazil.

All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s

Cobbs’ next book details the people and politics behind the Peace Corps, and discusses themes of American idealism at work during the difficult realities of the second half of the twentieth century. All You Need is Love was published on October 1998.

Major Problems in American History Volume II

The Major Problems in American History series introduces college undergraduates to the major events and phases of American history. It brings primary documents together with contrasting historical interpretations and challenges students to come to their conclusions. Co-editor with Jon Gjerde and Edward Blum, Cobbs has published four editions of the book, sold to over 100,000 students since the first edition in 2002 (Houghton-Mifflin, Cengage).

Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War

Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War was published by Balantine Books on March 29, 2011, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter. The historical fiction novel explores diplomacy at a time of high tension during the war. The book won the San Diego Book Award and also Director's Mention for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction.

American Umpire

American Umpire is a reinterpretation of the United States' role in global affairs. American Umpire was published in March 2013.

The Hamilton Affair

Cobbs' book The Hamilton Affair, was published by Skyhorse Publishing in August of 2016. The Hamilton Affair is a novel based on the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton and his courageous wife, Eliza Schuyler who survived his tragic death and raised their seven children while working to improve the lives of impoverished families.

Awards, grants, and fellowships

Elizabeth Cobbs has received several awards and recognition for her literary works. She has to her credit four literary prizes; two of the prizes are for American History while the other two are for fiction. The list of some of the notable awards to her credit can be found below:

2015–2018 Hoover Institution, Stanford University (Research Fellow)2010–2014, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (National Fellow)2009 Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction(Director's Mention)2009 San Diego Book Award, Broken Promise: A Novel of the Civil War Best Historical Fiction (Winner). • 2006 "First Annual David M. Kennedy Lecture," Stanford University2003–2004 Fulbright Distinguished Professorship, Mary Ball Washington Chair, University College Dublin, Ireland1997 Bernath Lecture Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). • 1993 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, SHAFR, for best first book on the history of U.S. foreign relations (winner)1993 Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.1989 Allan Nevins Prize, Society of American Historians, for Best Dissertation on U.S. history: The Rich Neighbor Policy (winner)1986 David Potter Award, Outstanding History Graduate Student, Stanford (winner)


2016 Producer and Scriptwriter, Documentary film "American Umpire" Shell Studios, LLC. WETA-Washington, Broadcast: Fall 2016

Op-eds, journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries

2015 "Why the U.S. Officially 'Believes' Pakistan's bin Laden Story," Reuters, May 202015 "Why the Letter to Iran Won't End Well for Republicans," Reuters, March 112015 "Why Boehner's Invite to Netanyahu is Unconstitutional," Reuters, March 22014 "Metaphor Meets Reality: U.S. and China Are Clearing the Air,” Reuters, November 172014 "Avoid a Classic Blunder: Stay Out of Religious Wars in the Middle East,” Reuters, September 162014 "The Sincerest Form of Flattery: The Peace Corps, The Helsinki Accords, and the Internationalization of Social Values,” in Bruce J.Schulman. Making the American Century: Essays on the Political Culture of Twentieth Century America (New York: Oxford, 2014)2014 "Court of Arbitration Could Help Solve Russia-Ukraine Crisis," San Diego Union, (March 26 )2014 "Obama Must Escape the Cold War Syndrome," Chicago Tribune (Reuters). February 212014 "America's Long Search for Mr. Right," Reuters, February 122013 "Best Frenemies," Hoover Digest, January, reprinted from "Making Frenemies with Putin," Reuters, September 102013 "Room for Debate: For U.S., There’s An Easy Distinction,” New York Times, September 42013 “Patriotism: Revolutionaries Were Original Patriots,” San Diego Union, June 292013 “George Washington’s Benghazi Blues,” Jerusalem Post, May 26

2013 "Terrorism: Is American Imperialism Inviting It?” San Jose Mercury, May 3

2013 "China as Peacemaker," Reuters, March 27

2013 "Room for Debate: China, Japan, and South Korea’s Turn,” New York Times, Op-Ed, March 13

2013 "Come Home, America," New York Times, Op-Ed, March 5

2013 April 10, Elizabeth Cobbs debate Andrew Bacevich "Umpire or Empire

2011 "Saddle Up for A Wild Western Ride, L'Amour Style, National Public Radio Website, "All Things Considered," May 16

2013 "America's Civil War—and Syria's," San Diego Union, April 10

2011 "A Dangerous Neutrality," DisUnion Blog, New York Times, The Opinion Pages, 12 May

2010 "How I Became a Novelist and Lived (Learned) to Tell the Tale," Passport, SHAFR, April 2010: 22–23

2008 "The Ties That Bind: Personal Diplomacy in International Relations,” Washington Independent, August 29

2008 “Spying: A US Psychic Dilemma” Washington Independent, June 20

2008 “When Did Talking Go Out of Style?” Washington Independent, June 4

2008 “The New Frontier” and “The Peace Corps,” in Encyclopedia of the Cold War, Routledge: 626–627, 684–686

2006 “Returning to Containment,” San Diego Union, March 8

2004 “John F. Kennedy and the Problem of Idealism,” in John F. Kennedy: A Retrospective Look, Warsaw University Press (Poland): 119–125

2003 “The Peace Corps,” in Poverty and Social Welfare in America: An Encyclopedia, ed. Gwendolyn Mink, et al, ABC-Clio: 530–531

2001 “Nothing Wrong With Teaching What’s Right About U.S.,” Los Angeles Times, December 30

2001 "Decolonization, the Cold War, and the Foreign Policy of the Peace Corps," in Empire and Revolution: The United States and the ThirdWorld since 1945. Columbus: Ohio State University, 2001: 123–153

2001 "The Assassins Revisited," San Diego Union, October 18

2001 The Oxford Companion to United States History, Oxford University Press, entry on "The Peace Corps:” 584

1999 “Playing the Role of Warrior and Priest,” Los Angeles Times, April 11

1998 "Building Nations with the Peace Corps," San Diego Union, April 26

1997 "Diplomatic History and the Meaning of Life: Toward a Global American History,” Diplomatic History. Fall 1997: 499–518

1996 "Decolonization, the Cold War and the Foreign Policy of the Peace Corps" Diplomatic History. Winter 1996: 79–105

1991 "U.S. Business: Self-Interest and Neutrality,” in Abraham F. Lowenthal, ed., Exporting Democracy: The United States and LatinAmerica. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991: 264–295

Lectures, papers and commentary

2015 "Alexander Hamilton and the Early Republic," American History TV, C-Span3, April 22

2015 "Historians Writing Fiction," Round-Table Discussion, American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York City, January 2

2014 Commonwealth Club (San Francisco), "Umpire or Empire: The History and Future of American Leadership,” November 10

2014 C-Span3 American History TV, "The U.S. and World Leadership," October 10

2014 Denver World Affairs Council, "Umpire or Empire: The Costs and Consequences of World Leadership,” September 9

2014 Miller Center Forum, University of Virginia: “An Empire of Influence Not Arms,” February 12

2013–14 Invited lectures: “America: Empire or Umpire, and At What Cost?” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, American University, Notre Dame, University of Texas, Texas A&M, Stanford University, Cornell University

2013 Victor Rocha Memorial Lecture, "American Umpire," California State University, San Marcos October 17

2013 Civil War Round Table, San Diego, "Friends, Enemies, and Countrymen: Britain in the U.S. Civil War,” October 16.

2012 Public Round-Table: “American Umpire,” Miller Center Fellows Conference,” University of Virginia, May 10

2011 Featured Speaker: 9th Annual Southern California Writers’ Conference, Irvine, California, September 25

2011 Public Lecture: “To Compel Acquiescence: The Real Meaning of the Founders’ ‘Empire’ of Liberty, 1648–1789,” Harvard University and Boston University, March 29 and 30

2011 Miller Center Forum, “JFK and America’s Peace Corps at Fifty,” Miller Center Forum, University of Virginia

2010 Round-Table: “Educational Exchange and the Writing of International History,” Annual Conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, Madison, Wisconsin, June 26

• ''2010 Panel: “What Has Obama Learned From History?” Annual Conference of the American Historical Association, January 8

Book reviews

Elizabeth Cobb has written a number of book reviews

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