James Chace

James Chace

Ask a question about 'James Chace'
Start a new discussion about 'James Chace'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
James Clarke Chace was an eminent historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

, writing on American diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 and statecraft
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

. His 12 books include the critically acclaimed Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World (1998), the definitive biography of former Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

. In a debate during the 2000 presidential primary
Republican Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2000
The 2000 Republican presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Republican Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Governor of Texas George W...

, George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 referred to Chace's Acheson as one of the books he was reading at the time.http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/12/13/acheson/index.html

His writings, known for elegant and even literary prose, often influenced American thought in policymaking — his coining of the phrase "the indispensable nation" to describe America was widely used when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Korbelová Albright is the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State. She was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996, and was unanimously confirmed by a U.S. Senate vote of 99–0...

 began including it in her speeches.

Chace was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts
Fall River, Massachusetts
Fall River is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, in the United States. It is located about south of Boston, southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and west of New Bedford and south of Taunton. The city's population was 88,857 during the 2010 census, making it the tenth largest city in...

. His family, of the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 aristocracy, lost nearly everything during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 after the collapse of the Fall River cotton-mill economy. This experience he later described in his 1990 memoir What We Had.

Chace graduated from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 with a degree in Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

. He went to France in 1954 to conduct graduate-study research on painter Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

 and writer Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

, but soon found his interest drawn to the current intellectual arena of literature and politics, which led to an intense interest in French political writers including Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

 and Jean Paul Sartre. He returned to France later the same year as a soldier and in 1955 and 1956 worked as an Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 translator, which involved the translation of French newspapers for the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. While in France he wrote a novel and was witness to the impact of that nation's withdrawal from Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and its problems with a rebellion in colonialized Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...


After his return to the United States his interest in foreign policy grew as he served as managing editor for East Europe, a political review of Soviet bloc affairs, from 1959 to 1969, during which time he wrote his book Conflict in the Middle East about the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. He also served as the managing editor of the foreign policy journal Interplay (1967-1970) and Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs is an American magazine and website on international relations and U.S. foreign policy published since 1922 by the Council on Foreign Relations six times annually...

(1970-1983). He became editor of the World Policy Journal
World Policy Journal
World Policy Journal is a magazine on international relations published by SAGE Publications for the World Policy Institute. It contains primarily policy essays, but also book reviews, interviews, and historical essays...

in 1993, where he served for 7 years. In 1990, he was appointed Professor of Government at Bard College
Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as "St. Stephen's College", is a small four-year liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.-Location:...

 in Annandale-on-Hudson
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Annandale-on-Hudson is a hamlet in Dutchess County, New York, USA, in the Hudson Valley in the town of Red Hook, across the Hudson River from Kingston....

, in upstate New York. He later helped found and chair Bard's international affairs
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 program, the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA), in New York City. His pieces were frequently printed on newspaper op-ed pages and he contributed to the New York Times Book Review in the 1980s and 1990s.

Chace's work focused on American statesmanship, the interplay of American interests with American values, and the use of American power. He believed that any statesman effectively leading a nation will understand that resources are limited — including blood and political will — and that in protecting the interests of the nation those resources cannot be overtaxed. According to fellow writer and good friend Mark Danner
Mark Danner
Mark David Danner is a prominent American writer, journalist, and educator. He is a former staff writer for The New Yorker and frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Danner specializes in U.S. foreign affairs, war and politics, and has written extensively on Haiti, Central America,...

, Chace considered the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 a classic example of a nation failing to prudently balance interests and resources, and saw the Iraq War as another example.http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/12/books/review/12CHACEL.html?ex=1163134800&en=4dc6a5873cc8dd29&ei=5070

Chace died from a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in Paris while doing research for a biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, which would have been his tenth book. At the time of his death, Chace resided in New York City and was survived by former wives Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine is an American poet, and currently the New York State Poet . Her poetry collection, Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, was awarded the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry....

 and Susan Denvir Chace, his long-time companion Joan Bingham, and daughters Sarah, Rebecca, and Zoe. He was a close friend and mentor of military historian and author Caleb Carr
Caleb Carr
Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian.-Biography:A son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in...

 and historian David Fromkin
David Fromkin
David Fromkin is a noted author, lawyer, and historian, best known for his historical account on the Middle East, A Peace to End All Peace , in which he recounts the role European powers played between 1914 and 1922 in creating the modern Middle East. The book was a finalist for both the National...

. He had two grand daughters, Rebecca and Pesha.


  • Conflict in the Middle East (1969 H. W. Wilson Company) - causes and consequences of the 1967 Six-Day War
  • A World Elsewhere: the new American foreign policy (1973 Scribner) (ISBN 0-684-13225-7)
  • Atlantis Lost: United States-European Relation After the Cold War (James Chace, co-editor with Earl C. Ravenal) (1976 UP) ISBN 0-8147-1361-0
  • Solvency, the Price of Survival: An essay on American foreign policy (1981 Random House) ISBN 0-394-50754-1
  • Endless War: How We Got Involved in Central America-And What Can Be Done (1984 Vintage Books) (ISBN 0-394-72779-7)
  • America Invulnerable: The Quest for Absolute Security from 1812 to Star Wars (1988 Summit) (by James Chace with Caleb Carr
    Caleb Carr
    Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian.-Biography:A son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in...

    ) ISBN 0-671-61778-8
  • What We Had: A Memoir (1990 Summit Books) ISBN 0-671-69478-2
  • The Consequences of the Peace: The New Internationalism and American Foreign Policy (1993 Oxford) ISBN 0-19-508354-7
  • Acheson: The Secretary Of State Who Created The American World (1998 Simon & Schuster)
  • What If? 2: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been (2001 Putnam) (by Robert Cowley
    Robert Cowley
    Robert Cowley is an American military historian, who writes on topics in American and European military history ranging from the Civil War through World War II...

    , James Chace and John Lukacs
    John Lukacs
    John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic...

    ) ISBN 0-399-14795-0
  • 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs -The Election that Changed the Country (2004 Simon & Schuster, Inc.) ISBN 0-7432-0394-1
  • Booknotes on American Character: people, politics, and conflict in American history (2004 Perseus Press) (contributor) ISBN 1-58648-232-7

External links