Elizabeth Cobbs

Research Fellow

Research Fellow Elizabeth Cobbs writes, lectures, and produces documentaries on world history, the history of US foreign relations, and current international policy. She has won literary prizes for both history and fiction and holds the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, China Daily News, Washington Independent, San Diego Union, Reuters, and other distinguished publications. She has appeared on the Today Show, Morning Joe Show, and National Public Radio. 

Cobbs’s first book of nonfiction, The Rich Neighbor Policy, won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians, and the Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Her first historical novel, Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War, won the San Diego Book Award and Director’s Mention for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Her other books include American Umpire, Major Problems in American History, and All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the 1960s. She has served on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in History and two terms on the Historical Advisory Committee of the US State Department. She has received awards and fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Organization of American States, and other distinguished institutions.

Cobbs is working on three projects at Hoover. She is finishing a novel on the life of Alexander Hamilton as well as beginning a book that weaves together the story of Woodrow Wilson’s decision to support women’s suffrage (an extension of his hope to make the world “safe for democracy”), with the story of the Women’s Signal Corps, the first female unit in the U. Army. She is also co-producing and writing a PBS documentary based on her book American Umpire, which explores America’s grand strategy for the next fifty years.

Cobbs holds a BA in literature/writing from the University of California at San Diego and an MA and PhD in American history from Stanford University. She is a native Californian.

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Recent Commentary

World War I Pictorial, Box 33, Hoover Institution Archives
Analysis and Commentary

'Hello Girls' Answered Our Nation's Call

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Houston Chronicle
Saturday, May 27, 2017

They answered call in WWI, led efforts to secure vote, benefits.

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Winning Women

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

Woodrow Wilson at first found himself scandalized by protesting women, but soon he championed their cause. How President Trump and feminists might likewise make common cause.

At Home In The World: Women Writers And Public Life, From Austen To The Present, By Maria DiBattista And Deborah Epstein Nord

by Elizabeth Cobbs
Friday, March 31, 2017

At Home in the World rebels against the myth that the greatest female authors have “devoted themselves almost exclusively to dramas of the marriage market”. Critics may view female novelists through the narrow lens of chick lit, but intrepid scribblers have ranged far and wide outside the domestic ghetto for two centuries.

International Women's Day — American Women Behind, As Usual

by Elizabeth Cobbs
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The United States has the world’s oldest feminist movement, yet American women are behind their sisters elsewhere.

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Staying Power

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 27, 2017

Some of America’s founders would have liked Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy. After all, they were the original foes of risky entanglements abroad. 

Analysis and Commentary

Woodrow Wilson's Woman Problem, A Case Study For The Trump Era

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Donald Trump will not be the first president upstaged by a mass demonstration of women. The consequences depend on whether both he and modern-day feminists learn from their predecessors’ experience.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Age: New Possibilities For The New World Order

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Defence Matters
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Defence Matters launched an inquiry about the consequences of the American elections for the larger international system. In the first part of our series, Elizabeth Cobbs, professor of American History at Texas A&M University will discuss the potential impact of a Trump Presidency for the broader US engagement in the world, for NATO and the US allies in Asia as well as for the future of the rules-based liberal international order.


American Umpire

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia Policyed.org
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Since the end of World War II, the United States has played a unique security role in the world. During that time, democratic nation states have proliferated, combat deaths have plunged, and global trade has boomed.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Today's Victors Don't Want The Spoils

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia San Diego Union-Tribune
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

At the end of my first semester as a professor many years ago, a student studying for the final exam sought me out. “I think I understand the Revolution,” she said. “But I’m not sure about the Civil War. Who won?”

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Cobbs: Trump Is A Terrible Representative Of A Worthy Idea

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia San Jose Mercury News
Monday, September 12, 2016

History will assess Donald Trump as a terrible representative for a worthy idea. He dismisses military leaders as an embarrassment. He advocates stealing the riches of other countries. He is so inconsistent there is no guarantee he would attempt half his proposals.