Dr John Bew is Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He is also Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence and runs the Foreign Policy Research Group at King’s. John has recently been appointed the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. His tenure will begin in October.
From 2007-10 he was Lecturer in Modern British History, Harris Fellow and Director of Studies at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, where he was previously a Junior Research Fellow. John writes for the Irish Times, London Review of Books, Spectator, Standpoint and Times Higher Education Supplement. He appears regularly on television and radio including CNN, Sky News and BBC Newsnight, The Review Show, The Today Programme and Radio 4’s Analysis, for which he presented a programme on British national identity. He is currently filming a documentary for BBC Northern Ireland about the life of Lord Castlereagh and working on his next book, a new biography of Attlee, to be published by Quercus in 2016.
In 2009, Bew was profiled by The Observer as one of the rising stars of the historical profession and in 2011 the Daily Telegraph named him ‘one of the most exciting young historians in Britain’. His most recent book was launched by William Hague, the current Foreign Secretary, and praised by Jack Straw, one of Hague’s predecessors, as ‘excellent’. The current Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has described him as ‘the best historian of his generation’.
John’s critically acclaimed book, CASTLEREAGH: ENLIGHTENMENT, WAR AND TYRANNY, was published in October 2011 by Quercus in London and will be published by Oxford University Press in the United States in the autumn of 2012. It was named one of the books of the year for 2011 by the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Telegraph, BBC, and Total Politics magazine, and chosen by the Fondation Napoléon as ‘book of the month’ for March 2012. The book was also recommended in the Foreign Office Christmas Reading list and featured in BBC Parliament’s Christmas edition of Booktalk. It was featured as the lead review and front page of the Times Literary Supplement where it was described by Ferdinand Mount as ‘unparalleled in its size and sweep ... a Life so nearly complete that it need never be written again’.
John's previous books include TALKING TO TERRORISTS: MAKING PEACE IN NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE BASQUE COUNTRY (Hurst and Co., London, and Colombia University Press, New York, 2009), which was chosen in Foreign Policy Magazine's Global Thinkers Book Club in December 2009. It was reviewed widely in the international media. His first book, THE GLORY OF BEING BRITONS: CIVIC UNIONISM IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY BELFAST, was chosen as the inaugural book in a new series initiated by the Royal Irish Academy to showcase the work of new scholars.
In addition to four books, John has also published essays and articles on a variety of areas including foreign policy, national identity and terrorism, including a recent contribution to HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION: A HISTORY (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He has lectured on these topics around the world at a number of prestigious institutions including the Locarno room at the Foreign Office, the National Defense University in Washington DC and the European Parliament in Brussels.
John is currently writing two books: CLEMENT ATTLEE: FROM PUTNEY TO POTSDAM (Quercus) and REALPOLITIK: A BRIEF HISTORY (Oxford University Press).
John was born in Belfast in 1980 and completed his education at Pembroke College, Cambridge where he attained a first class BA in History, prize-winning MPhil and a PhD. He lives in north London.
Praise for CASTLEREAGH
• ‘In a magisterial political portrait Bew brings Castlereagh and his world sharply back to life, and reassesses one of Britain’s great forgotten statesmen’, Sunday Telegraph, Books of 2011
• 'the most brilliant and wise political biography I have read in a long while’, Ferdinand Mount Wall Street Journal Books of 2011
• '... wonderful ... Bew's book is not only unparalleled in its size and sweep; it is also drenched in the Irish dimension, enriched by the author's own Ulster heritage, as well as the sagacity, scholarship and charm that make this a Life so nearly complete that it need never be written again’, Times Literary Supplement
• ‘John Bew is the outstanding historian of his generation. His biography of Castlereagh displays a knowledge of character, a grasp of political intrigue and a talent for story-telling any writer would envy. He brings magnificently to life one of the most enigmatic, and influential, statesmen in Britain's history.’, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, UK Education Secretary
• ‘...excellent...a terrific read’, Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, former UK Foreign Secretary
• ‘In a formidable biography, John Bew has addressed the reputation of Castlereagh, one of the dominant political personalities of Regency Britain.’, Keith Simpson MP, Total Politics Books of 2011
• ‘... monumental ...’, Mark D’Arcy, BBC Political Books of the Year
• ‘... compelling ...’, Hywel Williams, The Guardian
• ‘Rivetting ... portrays the glory of perhaps the greatest of Britain’s foreign secretaries ... Bew's diligence in 13 archives in several countries and deep reading in the literature of the day ... has produced a scholarly defence of this great Tory paladin.’, Andrew Roberts, Standpoint
• 'In this well-researched and judicious book, John Bew successfully readjusts the picture ... this excellent biography tells a cautionary tale', Prof Leslie Mitchell, Literary Review
• 'John Bew has some heavy lifting to do in this consciously revisionist take. It is a great testament to his skills as a scholar and writer that he manages to do so with such aplomb ... stellar', Tristram Hunt MP, Daily Telegraph
• 'This new biography by John Bew is a wonderful book, in its scope, its scholarship and the magisterial sweep of the narrative. More than simply a biography of Castlereagh, it is a fascinating review of the war against Napoleon and an authoritative assessment of the personalities involved in the Congress of Vienna and the issues they wrestled with in remoulding the face of Europe ... offers insights not only into its subject but the nature and practice of diplomacy, statecraft, nationalism and internationalism', Irish Independent
• 'Vast, well-researched biography ... [a] solid, accomplished book', Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
• ‘Bew is above all a very fine historian, very thorough and an extremely good writer – he tells a damn good story’, Stephen Pound MP, BBC Booktalk
• ‘rehabilitates ... a really important and serious figure’, Hon. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, BBC Booktalk
• ‘John Bew, in a very likeable book, provides his readers with a more likeable Castlereagh ... Bew is a fluent stylist who knows how to convey the flavor of a time and place, and paints a memorable portrait of a man about whom even professional scholars of late-Georgian Britain are apt to know strangely little’, Reviews in History
• ‘Moderation in victory, and Castlereagh’s attitude that “it is not our business to collect trophies, but to try . . . to bring back the world to peaceful habits” contrasts favourably with the Versailles Treaty after the First World War in 1919 ... a biography well-worth reading’, The Irish Times