Elizabeth Cobbs

Senior Fellow

Elizabeth Cobbs,  a historian, novelist, and documentary filmmaker, holds the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. She specializes in US foreign relations and also writes more broadly on world and American history for the general public. She is the author of seven books, the latest of which are The Hello Girls: America’ First Women Soldiers (Harvard 2017), about the First World War and women’s suffrage, and The Hamilton Affair: A Novel (Arcade 2016), about the American Revolution.

Cobbs’s first book, The Rich Neighbor Policy: Rockefeller and Kaiser in Brazil (Yale 1992) won the Allan Nevins Prize and the Stuart L. Bernath Prize. Her first novel, Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War (Random House 2011) won the San Diego Book Award and received Director’s Mention for the David J. Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. In 2016 American Public Television broadcast her first documentary film, American Umpire, on the history and future of US grand strategy. Sponsored by WETA-Washington, it won Best Short Documentary at the San Diego GI Film Festival in 2017. Her other books include American Umpire (Harvard 2013), All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the 1960s (Harvard 2000), and four editions of the textbook Major Problems in American History (Cengage 2002–15). She has written essays and articles for the New York Times, Reuters, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, San Jose Mercury, San Diego Union, Washington Independent, Politico, and The Hill, as well as various academic journals.

Elizabeth Cobbs earned her PhD at Stanford University in 1988. She served on the Historical Advisory Committee of the US State Department from 1995 to 2005 and the jury for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in History. From 1999 to 2015, she held the Dwight E. Stanford Chair in American Foreign Relations at San Diego State University, where she twice won the departmental award for Most Influential Teacher. Previously, she was chair of the History Department at the University of San Diego. 

Her current projects include a documentary for public television on the history and future of work in the age of artificial intelligence, an article on patterns of American diplomacy, and a novel on the Civil War military service of Harriet Tubman.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

In the News

Readers Recommend Books: 'The Hello Girls' And 'Code Girls'

featuring Elizabeth Cobbsvia Star Tribune
Sunday, March 17, 2019

History is always on my list. I just finished “The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers,” by Elizabeth Cobbs. It recounts the story of women telephone operators who served in World War I. While they were treated as “less-than” in terms of benefits, they were seen as superior to men in their ability to handle the calls impacting troop movements and ultimately, saving lives. Many firsthand stories.

In the News

Unsung Women

quoting Elizabeth Cobbsvia Rutland Herald
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Women in the workplace do not always receive their due. A spate of books over the last few years reveals the stories of these previously unsung women whose work was instrumental in science, technology and the military.

In the News

U.S. Army Women’s Foundation 11Th Annual Hall Of Fame Induction & Scholarship Awards Reception

mentioning Elizabeth Cobbsvia Army Women's Foundation
Thursday, March 7, 2019
As the nation gears up to celebrate Women’s History month in March, join Congressman Chris Stewart & the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation as we induct the 2019 class of Army Women in to the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame and award this year’s Legacy Scholarship recipients.
Analysis and Commentary

These Women Were Denied Veteran Status For Decades. Congress Can’t Overlook Them Again.

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia The Washington Post
Monday, March 4, 2019

Women were among the last U.S. soldiers to return home from World War I. They will also be among the last honored if an overdue but welcome bipartisan bill pending in the Senate passes.

In the News

Senior News

mentioning Elizabeth Cobbsvia Amherst Bee
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book club will discuss Elizabeth Cobbs' “The Hello Girls: America's First Women Soldiers” at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 in the craft room.

Analysis and Commentary

The United States Should Choose Conciliation With China, Not Confrontation

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia The Washington Post
Saturday, December 1, 2018

Rather than threats, the U.S. should celebrate China’s rise and use international bodies like the WTO to correct its misdeeds.


19th Amendment Anniversary: Evaluating Woodrow Wilson's Complicated Contributions To Women's Equality

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia NBC News
Sunday, August 26, 2018

Wilson did not begin as a crusader for equality. He supported the status quo — until history backed him into a corner.


Harriet Tubman On The $20 Bill Would Be Smart For The President, His Party And The Nation

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia The Hill
Sunday, August 19, 2018

Could a black, Republican, female military hero who once helped reunite our country do so again? The Trump administration has vacillated on whether or not to place Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill, but confirming this choice would be smart for the president, his party, and the nation.

Analysis and Commentary

Historians Urge Treasury Secretary Mnuchin To Confirm Harriet Tubman On The New 20-Dollar Bill For Upcoming Anniversary Of Women's Suffrage

by Elizabeth Cobbs, Catherine Clintonvia PRNewswire
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

127 professional American historians have signed an open letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin urging that he commit to plans previously announced to replace President Andrew Jackson on the front of the 20-dollar bill with Harriet Tubman, escaped slave turned abolitionist and Civil War military scout. The redesign was to be unveiled by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the vote for women.

Analysis and Commentary

Kanye West Is Lecturing Us On Slavery. But He Gets The History All Wrong.

by Elizabeth Cobbsvia The Washington Post
Friday, May 4, 2018

West needs to study the life of Harriet Tubman before spouting off about her.