David Allen is a historian of U.S. foreign relations. He was most recently a fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Every Citizen a Statesman, which was published by Harvard University Press in January 2023, is David’s first book. It traces the roots of today’s crisis in the legitimacy of U.S. foreign policy at home. Blending the histories of state institutions, philanthropic foundations, social science research, grass-roots activism, and more, it looks at the efforts of the foreign policy elite itself to create a domestic constituency, offering the first history of the movement to interest, inform, and educate the public about international politics and create support for an active U.S. foreign policy. Although notable in itself, it was severely constrained by the ideas of citizenship and political engagement that it maintained, by the limits of technology, by the exclusionary nature of its social vision, and by its increasing disconnect from policymakers. Explaining how the dream of a democratic foreign policy went awry, this work highlights how domestic politics must play a critical role in any attempt to rethink U.S. grand strategy today.
David earned a PhD in History from Columbia University in 2019, with distinction. Before that, he took an MPhil in Historical Studies, with distinction, as well as a BA in History, with a double first, from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Previously, David has held appointments as an Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy at the Belfer Center; an Eisenhower Roberts Graduate Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College; a History and Policy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation; and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Project on Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft, appointed jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program and Belfer Center. David taught as a core Lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs in Spring 2021.
David has published academic articles in the International History Review, the Historical Journal, the Journal of Cold War Studies, the state-of-the-field volume Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations, and an edited volume on international organizations. His work has received grants and honors from the Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Previously a resident tutor at Leverett House, Harvard University, he lives and works with his family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Outside academia, David has been a freelance classical music critic at The New York Times since 2014. He tweets on music, mostly, at @fafnerthekite.