Professor Nigel J. Ashton is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He received his undergraduate degree and PhD from Christ’s College, Cambridge. His main research interests lie in the fields of contemporary Anglo-American relations and the international history of the Middle East. His most recent book was King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life (Yale University Press, 2008). He has also edited The Cold War in the Middle East: Regional Conflict and the Superpowers, 1967-73 (Routledge, 2007). His earlier works include Eisenhower, Macmillan and the Problem of Nasser: Anglo-American Relations and Arab Nationalism, 1955-59(Macmillan, 1996), and Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War: The Irony of Interdependence (Palgrave, 2002), which won the Cambridge Donner Foundation book prize in 2003. He is currently working on a study of the transition from British to American hegemony in the Middle East.
Professor Ashton teaches the following courses in the Department:
At undergraduate level:
- HY116: International History since 1890 (jointly with other members of the Department)
- HY300: Dissertation
- HY327: The Anglo-American Special Relationship, 1939-1989
At masters level:
- HY400: Crisis Decision-Making in War and Peace 1914-2003 (jointly with other members of the Department)
- HY429: Anglo-American Relations from World War to Cold War, 1939-1991
Professor Ashton's main fields of interest are contemporary Anglo-American relations and the modern history of the Middle East. These interests came together in his first book, Eisenhower, Macmillan and the Problem of Nasser: Anglo-American Relations and Arab Nationalism, 1955-59 (Macmillan, 1996), which looked at the strategies adopted by Britain and the United States to deal with the Arab nationalist challenge during the 1950s. His second book, Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War: the Irony of Interdependence (Palgrave, 2002), broadened the frame of reference to look at Anglo-American relations over a whole range of international issues during the Kennedy Presidency. Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War was awarded the Cambridge Donner Book Prize for 2003. This prize rewards excellence in advancing scholarly understanding of transatlantic relations.
In September 2008, his book King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life was published by Yale University Press. Based on unique and unprecedented access to the private papers of the late King this book provides a comprehensive analysis Hussein's statecraft, including his role in the Middle East peace process, the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973, the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf crisis and the campaign to unseat Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. It also illuminates the personality of one of the most colourful and charismatic Arab leaders of the twentieth century.
Listen to Professor Ashton discussing his book on King Hussein of Jordan.
Professor Ashton has also edited: The Iran-Iraq War: New International Perspectives (Routledge, 2013) and The Cold War in the Middle East: Regional Conflict and the Superpowers, 1967-73 (Routledge, 2007).
On 3 March 2022, Professor Ashton’s book: False Prophets: British Leaders’ Fateful Fascination with the Middle East from Suez to Syria was published by Atlantic books. False Prophets shows how a combination of fear and hubris led successive British leaders into a series of fateful interventions in the Middle East from the Suez Crisis of 1956, through the Iraqi and Afghan wars of the 1990s and 2000s, to the Libyan and Syrian civil wars of the 2010s. It was selected by The New Statesman as an essential read for 2022.
- False Prophets: British Leaders' Fateful Fascination with the Middle Easy from Suez to Syria (Atlantic Books, 2022)
- The Iran-Iraq War: New International Perspectives (2013)
- King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life (2008)
- The Cold War in the Middle Easter: Regional Conflict and the Superpowers 1967-73 (2007)
- Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War: The Irony of Interdependence (2002)
- Eisenhower, Macmillan and te Problem of Nasser: Anglo-American Relations and Arab Nationalism, 1955-59 (1996)
In addition to these three monographs, Professor Ashton has written a number of scholarly articles, including:
- (with Richard Aldous) 'David Reynolds: Studies in Competitive Co-operation', Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol.33, No.1, March 2022. This is part of a special issue that Professor Ashton co-edited under the same name.
- ‘“A Local Terrorist Made Good”: The Callaghan Government and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1977-79’, Contemporary British History, Vol.31, No.1, January 2017.
- ‘Taking Friends For Granted: The Carter Administration, Jordan and the Camp David Accords, 1977-80’, Diplomatic History, Vol.41, No.3, June 2017.
- 'Searching for a Just and Lasting Peace? Anglo-American Relations and the Road to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242', The International History Review, Vol.38, No.1, February 2016.
- ‘For King and Country: Jack O’Connell, the CIA and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1963-71’, Diplomatic History, Vol.36, No.5, November 2012
- ‘Love’s Labours Lost: Margaret Thatcher, King Hussein and Anglo-Jordanian Relations, 1979-90’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol.22, No.4, December 2011
- 'Pulling the strings: King Hussein's role in the crisis of 1970 in Jordan', The International History Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2006
- 'Harold Macmillan and the "Golden Days" of Anglo-American Relations Revisited, 1957-63', Diplomatic History, vol. 29. No. 4, September 2005
- 'A special relationship sometimes in spite of ourselves: Britain and Jordan, 1957-73' The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 33, No. 2, May 2005
- 'Britain and the Kuwaiti Crisis, 1961', Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol.9, No.1, March 1998
- 'A Microcosm of Decline: British Loss of Nerve and Military Intervention in Jordan and Kuwait, 1958 and 1961', The Historical Journal, Vol.40, No.4, December 1997
- 'The Hijacking of a Pact: The Formation of the Baghdad Pact and Anglo-American Tensions in the Middle East, 1955-58', Review of International Studies, Vol.19, No.2, April 1993
Recent conference papers given by Professor Ashton include:
- ‘Britain, the United States and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process after the Six-Day War’, University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 26 March 2018.
- 'Searching for a Just and Lasting Peace? Anglo-American Relations and the Road to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242', at the British International History Group Conference, LSE, 4-6 September 2014.
- 'The End of the "Golden Decade" and the Impact of the Oil Crisis', at 'Consigning the 1970s to History' conference, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 13 May 2014
- ‘Missed Opportunities for Peace: The United States, Jordan and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War’, Washington History Seminar, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC, October 2011
- ‘The Two Husseins: Jordanian-Iraqi relations during the Iran-Iraq War’, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC, conference on ‘The Iran-Iraq War: the View from Baghdad’, October 2011
- ‘King Hussein of Jordan and the Liberation of Iraq, 1958-99’, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, 14 February 2008, also delivered at the Institute of Historical Research, International History seminar, London, 13 May 2008
- 'The Suez Crisis and British withdrawal from Jordan' at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto, September 2006
- 'A difference over means or ends? Anglo-American relations and the Suez Crisis' at Suez Crisis Conference, QMW, University of London, June 2006
- 'Anglo-American Revival and Empire during the Macmillan Years, 1957-63', Wiles Trust Colloquium, Queen's University, Belfast, September 2003
- 'The Anglo-American Role in the September 1970 Crisis in Jordan', at the British International Studies Association Conference, University of Birmingham, December 2003
- 'Annihilation without Representation? Anglo-American Relations and the Cuban Missile Crisis', at the British International History Group Conference, University of Dundee, September 2002