“Do Leaders Make History, Or Is It Beyond Their Control,” March 2 Lecture with Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian and Harvard Prof. Fredrik Logevall


On March 2, the Kinder Institute, in partnership with Mizzou’s Novak Leadership Institute, will host Fredrik Logevall, Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs in Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Professor of History in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences, for a 7pm Zoom lecture entitled, “Do Leaders Make History, Or Is It Beyond Their Control?” (see abstract below). Anyone interested in attending can register for the event here.


“Men make their own history,” Karl Marx famously said, “but they do not make it as they please.” Was Marx right? How should we consider the role of the individual in human affairs versus that of deeper, impersonal forces? This talk, by Harvard historian Fredrik Logevall, examines this profound question anew in the context of contemporary American and world politics, taking into account the agency of human action and the degree to which the even the most powerful leaders are constricted by time, space, and conditions, and by what went before.


Fredrik Logevall is the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Professor of History, Harvard University. A specialist on U.S. foreign relations history and modern international history, he was previously the Anbinder Professor of History at Cornell University, where he also served as vice provost and as the director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. Logevall is the author or editor of ten books, most recently JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 (Random House, 2020). His book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House, 2012), won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History and the 2013 Francis Parkman Prize, as well as the 2013 American Library in Paris Book Award and the 2013 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations. His other recent works include America’s Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity (with Campbell Craig; 2nd ed., Belknap/Harvard, 2020), and the college-level textbook A People and A Nation: A History of the United States (with Jane Kamensky et al; 11th ed., Cengage, 2018). A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Logevall holds a PhD in History from Yale University. He is a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.