Professor Jones studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Sussex, and went on to St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he gained his DPhil in Modern History. He was appointed to a Lectureship in the History Department at Royal Holloway, University of London in 1994, and subsequently promoted to Reader in International History before moving to the University of Nottingham in 2004 where he was Professor of Modern History. In 2008, Professor Jones was appointed by the Prime Minister to become the Cabinet Office official historian of the UK strategic nuclear deterrent and the Chevaline programme. He joined LSE in September 2013 as Professor of International History.
As reflected in his articles and books, Professor Jones’s interests span many aspects of the history of British and American foreign and defence policy in the twentieth century, as well as the Cold War more generally. He also has a long standing specific interest in the end of empire in South East Asia. His first book was Britain, the United States and the Mediterranean War, 1942-44 (Macmillan, 1996), which examined the strains brought to the Anglo-American relationship by strategic issues and command problems in the Mediterranean theatre, as well as disputes over civil affairs and the ‘politics of liberation’ as the Allied forces moved through North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and approached the Balkans. For his next book, Conflict and Confrontation in South East Asia, 1961-1965: Britain, the United States, Indonesia, and the Creation of Malaysia (Cambridge University Press, 2002), he looked at the process by which the federation of Malaysia was created as British decolonization gathered pace in the 1960s, the way this helped to trigger conflict with Indonesia, and the attitude of the United States toward these events as its own involvement in the region deepened. After Hiroshima: The United States, Race, and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965, published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press, looked at the development of US nuclear strategy in Asia in the period marked by the Korean War, confrontation with China, and the early phases of US engagement in Vietnam, placing a special emphasis on the influence of the widespread perception that the atomic bomb was a ‘white man’s weapon’ and the diplomatic and military dilemmas this helped create.
Two of his most recent books, published in 2017, arise from his appointment as an official historian by the Cabinet Office: The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent. Volume I: From the V-Bomber Era to the Arrival of Polaris, 1945-64 and The Official History of the UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent. Volume II: The Labour Government and the Polaris Programme, 1964-70, both published by Routledge in 2017. This large-scale project on UK nuclear weapons policy has taken him into many aspects of post-1945 international history, including US-Soviet relations, the development of NATO strategy, and strategic arms control. Professor Jones is continuing work, now under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, toward a third and concluding volume of the official history series on the UK strategic nuclear deterrent which will cover the period between 1970 and 1982.
In 2019, he released a book with Professor Kevin Ruane of Christ Church Canterbury University on British policy and Anglo-American relations during the Indochina crisis of 1954. Anthony Eden, Anglo-American Relations and the 1954 Indochina Crisis (Bloomsbury) revisits a Cold War episode in which British diplomacy played a vital role in settling a crucial question of international war and peace.
Professor Jones has been the recipient of grants and awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Eccles Centre for North American Studies at the British Library.
He was Head of Department of International History at LSE from 2017 to 2020.
Professor Matthew Jones usually teaches the following courses:
At undergraduate level:
- HY448: Living with the Bomb: An International History of Nuclear Weapons and the Arms Race from the Second World War to the End of the Cold War
At postgraduate level:
- HY4B1 The Vietnam Wars, 1930-75: Regional and International Perspectives
- HY501 International History Research Student Workshop
- HY509 International History Research Seminar
‘”A Matter of Joint Decision”: The Origins of British Nuclear Retaliation Procedures and the Murphy-Dean Agreement of 1958,’ English Historical Review, forthcoming in 2023.
'End of Empire and the Bomb: Britain, Malaya, and Nuclear Weapons, 1956-57,' Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, published online open access October 2022.
‘”The Blue-Eyed Boys”: The Heath Government, Anglo-American Relations, and the Bombing of North Vietnam in 1972,’ International History Review, 44, 1, 2022, 92-112.
About Anthony Eden, Anglo-American Relations and the 1954 Indochina Crisis - with Kevin Ruane (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).
'Prelude to the Skybolt Crisis: The Kennedy Administration’s Approach to British and French Strategic Nuclear Policies in 1962,' Journal of Cold War Studies, 21, 2, Spring 2019, 58-109.
‘Freedom from Want,’ in Jeffrey Engel (ed), The Four Freedoms: The Global Contest for FDR’s Legacy of Liberty (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 125-64.
‘Journalism, intelligence and The New York Times: Cyrus L. Sulzberger, Harrison E. Salisbury and the CIA,’ History, 100, 340, April 2015, 229-50.
‘”A Man in a Hurry”: Henry Kissinger, Transatlantic Relations, and the British Origins of the Year of Europe Dispute,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, 24, 1, 2013, 77-99.
(with Paul McGarr), ‘”Real Substance, Not Just Symbolism’? The CIA and the Representation of Covert Operations in the Foreign Relations of the United States Series,’ in Christopher R. Moran and Christopher J. Murphy (eds), Intelligence Studies in Britain and the US: Historiography since 1945 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), 65-89.
‘Great Britain, the United States, and consultation over use of the atomic bomb, 1950-1954,’ The Historical Journal, 54, 3, September 2011, 797-828.
‘Intelligence and Counterinsurgency: The Malayan Experience,’ in M. Goodman and R. Dover (eds), Learning from the Secret Past: Cases in British Intelligence History (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), 135-54.
After Hiroshima: The United States, Race and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp502 + xii.
(with John W. Young): ‘Polaris, East of Suez: British plans for a Nuclear Force in the Indo-Pacific region, 1964-1968,’ Journal of Strategic Studies, 33, 6, December 2010, 847-70.
‘Targeting China: U.S. Nuclear Planning and “Massive Retaliation” in East Asia, 1953-1955,’ Journal of Cold War Studies, 10, 4, 2008, 37-65.
‘Between the Bear and the Dragon: Nixon, Kissinger, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Era of Détente,’ English Historical Review, CXXIII, October 2008, 1272-1283.
'Lost Opportunities or False Expectations? The Kennedy Administration and Indonesia, 1961-63,’ in M. Berg and A. Etges (eds), John F. Kennedy and the "Thousand Days": New Perspectives on the Foreign and Domestic Policies of the Kennedy Administration (Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag, 2007), 99-120.
"Kipling and all that": American perceptions of SOE and British imperial intrigue in the Balkans, 1943-1945,’ in N. Wylie (ed), The Politics and Strategy of Clandestine War: Special Operations Executive, 1940-1946 (London: Routledge, 2007), 90-108.
‘A “segregated” Asia? Race, the Bandung Conference, and pan-Asianist fears in American thought and policy, 1954-55,’ Diplomatic History, 29, 5, November 2005, 841-68.
‘The Radford Bombshell: Anglo-American-Australian relations, nuclear weapons and the defence of South East Asia, 1954-57,’ Journal of Strategic Studies, 27, 4, December 2004, 636-62.
‘The Preferred Plan: The Anglo-American Working Group Report on Covert Action in Syria, 1957,’ Intelligence and National Security, 19, 3, 2004, 401-15.
‘”Calling three meetings in five days is foolish – and putting them off for six weeks at a time is just as bad”: Organizing the New Frontier’s Foreign Policy,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, 15, 2, June 2004, 413-25.
‘Up the Garden Path? Britain’s Nuclear History in the Far East, 1954-1962,’ International History Review, 25, 2, June 2003, 306-33.
‘Anglo-American relations after Suez, the rise and decline of the Working Group experiment, and the French challenge to NATO, 1957-59,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, 14, 2, March 2003, 49-79.
Conflict and Confrontation in South East Asia, 1961-1965: Britain, the United States, Indonesia and the Creation of Malaysia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp325 + xv.
‘A Decision Delayed: Britain’s Withdrawal from South East Asia Reconsidered, 1961-1968,’ English Historical Review, CXVII, 472, June 2002, 569-95.
‘U.S. Relations with Indonesia, the Kennedy-Johnson Transition, and the Vietnam Connection, 1963-1965,’ Diplomatic History, 26, 2, Spring 2002, 249-82.
‘”Beyond Vietnam”: The United States, Laos and Cambodia in the Johnson Years,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, 13, 1, March 2002, 191-200.
‘”Groping Toward Coexistence”: U.S. China Policy during the Johnson Years,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, 12, 13, September 2001, 175-90.
‘Creating Malaysia: Singapore Security, the Borneo territories and the contours of British policy, 1961-63,’ Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 28, 2, May 2000, 85-109.
‘”Maximum Disavowable Aid”: Britain, the United States and the Indonesian Rebellion, 1957-58,’ English Historical Review, CXIV, 459, November 1999, 1179-1216.
‘Macmillan, Eden, the War in the Mediterranean and Anglo-American relations,’ Twentieth Century British History, 8, 1, January 1997, 27-48.
Britain, the United States, and the Mediterranean War, 1942-44 (London: Macmillan, 1996), pp293 + ix.