Staff Profile


Professor Kevin Ruane

Professor of Modern History

School: School of Humanities

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 921669

Profile summary

My name is Kevin Ruane. I am Professor of Modern History at Canterbury Christ Church University and a By-Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. I specialise in twentieth century international history, in particular Anglo-American relations, the Cold War, Nuclear History, and the Vietnam war. I have published widely on all these areas, and currently contribute to undergraduate modules on 'The Cold War' and 'War and Revolution in Vietnam'. 

You can follow me on Twitter @kevinruane2

My latest book Churchill and the Bomb in War and Cold War (Bloomsbury, 2016) was named by BBC History magazine as one of the History Books of 2016.

Other praise includes the following:

‘Marvellously fluent and detailed…a major historical contribution…’ Martin J. Sherwin, winner (with Kai Bird) of the Pulitzer Prize for American Prometheus.

‘There have been books on this subject before, but Kevin Ruane’s is the best…Churchill and the Bomb makes for gripping reading’. Andrew Roberts, Literary Review.

‘Big man. Big weapon. Big theme. Kevin Ruane blends all three in a fascinating and fluent fusion!’ Lord (Peter) Hennessy, author of Cabinets and the Bomb

Compelling…a real page-turner’. Kathleen Burk, author of Old World, New World: the Story of Britain and America.

Kevin Ruane’s Churchill and the Bomb is ‘revelatory [and] outstanding for the breadth of its scholarship, the richness of its narrative and the acuity of its judgement’. Graham Farmelo, author of Churchill’s Bomb.

‘Kevin Ruane’s Churchill and the Bomb is a work of impeccable scholarship...It cannot be recommended too highly’. D. R. Thorpe, Twentieth Century British History.

Churchill and the Bomb is superb' and 'deserves a place on the shelf of any student of the nuclear era’. B. Cameron Reid, Journal of British Studies.

Research and knowledge exchange

The opportunity to write my 2016 book, Churchill and the Bomb, arose from my work with Bloomsbury on the Churchill Archive, a digitisation project by which all the papers of Winston Churchill have been made available on-line. My part in the project was to contribute web-essays, hyperlinking to documents in the archive, on 'Churchill and the Cold War' and 'Churchill and Nuclear Weapons'. These essays, along with many others hitherto located exclusively on the Archive website, have since been published in Richard Toye, ed., Winston Churchill Politics, Strategy and Statecraft (Bloomsbury, 2017). I have also been involved with the related Churchill Archive for Schools project.

In more Churchill knowledge-exchange, I spoke at both the 2016 (Washington DC) and 2017 (New York City) annual Churchill conferences hosted by the International Churchill Society. My 2017 talk on Churchill and Nuclear Weapons was introduced by Churchill’s grand-daughter, Edwina Sandys, and can be viewed on C-Span.

My next book, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2019, is co-authored with Professor Matthew Jones of the LSE and deals with the British role in the end of the French war in Vietnam. It is (provisionally) titled: Containing America: Anthony Eden, British Diplomacy and the French War in Indochina.

In the longer run, novelist Graham Greene and his travels/adventures in Vietnam in the 1950s will form the subject a book, Graham Greene in Love and War, a blending of history, literature and biography. I have spoken twice at the International Graham Greene Festival - most recently in 2017 - on Greene and Indochina and the first fruits of my research have appeared in an article in the journal History, ‘The Hidden History of Graham Greene’s Vietnam War’ in which I explore the historical reality underpinning Greene's celebrated fictional account of the French war in Indochina, The Quiet American.

Teaching and subject expertise

My teaching reflects my research interests – indeed I am committed to research-informed teaching in my current undergraduate modules on the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and Nuclear History.

Because of subject specialisms, I also contribute to mainstream media, for example The One Show on BBC1 (a feature on Soviet plans to invade the UK in 1976). My most recent appearances include BBC Southeast Today (February 2017) on Churchill’s and extra-terrestrial life (see my Blog-post on Churchill and the X-Files) and contributions to Episode 1 of Inside Balmoral on Channel 5.

In another filmed event, in November 2016 I debated the subject of Churchill and Nuclear Weapons at Churchill College in Cambridge in the company of that fine Churchill scholar Graham Farmelo, author of Churchill’s Bomb.

In April 2016, I had the privilege of working with the director and cast of a Vietnam-themed play, The Last of the Boys, by US playwright Steven Dietz, which had its European premiere in London at the Southwark Playhouse. My role was historical advisor, and for me the experience allowed for the blending of my work on Vietnam with my love of theatre. An equal privilege was to to share the stage for an audience Q&A after one performance not only with John but and Jan Harlan, who worked with Stanley Kubrick on Full Metal Jacket, The Shining and a number of other iconic movies. Below Cavan Clarke, Zoë Tapper, Wendy Nottingham, John Haidar, Kevin Ruane, Demitri Goritsas, Todd Boyce

For ten years I was also one of the editors of Contemporary British History and remain on the journal's editorial board. Finally, on a less serious note, Less I won the Times Higher 'exam howler of the year' competition in 2012. My prize - quite a lot of champagne - was obviously shared with my students (!). 

External activities

Among my recent talks and activities, these are some highlights:

‘Our Man in Hanoi: the Strange and Enduring Friendship between Graham Greene and Confidential Agent Trevor Wilson’, Graham Greene International Festival, 2017.

Churchill the Nuclear Statesman’, 34th International Churchill Conference, New York City, 2017.

‘Winston Churchill and the Atomic Bombing of Japan’, Second World War Research Group Annual Conference, King’s College, London, 2017.

‘Remembering the 1942 Baedeker Raid on Canterbury’, 75th Anniversary Commemoration Event, CCCU, Canterbury, 2017.

‘Churchill and the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945’, Historical Association Annual Conference, Manchester, 2017.

‘Winston's Atomic Orange: Churchill and the Bomb in War and Cold War, Canterbury Branch of the Historical Association, 2016.

‘Churchill and Nuclear Weapons’, debate hosted by the Churchill Archives Centres, Churchill College, Cambridge, 2016.

‘Sir John Anderson’, 33rd International Churchill Conference, Washington DC, 2016.

BBC radio interview on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan, 2015.  

‘John F. Kennedy, the Cold War, and “what might have been”: Reflections offered on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Assassination’, Historical Association, Canterbury Branch, 2013.

‘The Hidden History of Graham Greene’s Vietnam War: Fact and Fiction and The Quiet American’, 24th Annual British International History Group Conference, de Montfort University, Leicester, 2012.

‘Graham Greene's Vietnam War’, The Graham Greene International Literary Festival, 2012.


Publications and research outputs


Containing America: Anthony Eden, British Diplomacy and the French War in Indochina (forthcoming, Bloomsbury, 2019).

Churchill and the Bomb in War and Cold War (Bloomsbury, 2016).

The Rise and Fall of the European Defence Community: Anglo-American Relations and the Crisis of European Defence, 1950-1955 (London: Macmillan, 2000).

The Vietnam Wars (Manchester: MUP, 2000).

War and Revolution in Vietnam, 1930-1975 (London: Routledge, 1998).

Recent Chapters, Articles and Blogs

‘Churchill and the Cold War’ and ‘Churchill and Nuclear Weapons’ in Richard Toye, ed., Winston Churchill: Politics, Strategy and Statecraft in the Twentieth Century (Bloomsbury, 2017).

‘Advising the Un-Advisable: the Number 10 Private Office and the Suez Crisis’, in Andrew Holt and Warren Dockter, eds, Private Secretaries to the Prime Ministers: from Churchill to Thatcher (Routledge, 2017).

‘Winston Churchill, the X-Files and Alien life-forms’, CCCU Expert Comment Blog (February 2017).

‘Winston Churchill: Atomic Warrior, Nuclear Peacemaker’, BBC History Magazine (November 2016).

‘The nuclear Donald Trump: A peculiarly British anxiety?’, CCCU Expert Comment Blog (October 2016).

‘Churchill, God and the Bomb, History Today (August 2016).

‘Trident Renewal and the MAD-ness of Winston Churchill’, CCCU Expert Comment Bloc (July 2016).

'Britain, the United States and the issue of “limited war” with China, 1950-54’, in John Young et al, eds, Britain in Global Politics, Volume 2: from Churchill to Blair (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014).

‘The Hidden History of Graham Greene’s Vietnam War: Fact, Fiction and The Quiet American’ (History, Vol. 97, Issue 327, July 2012).

‘The Origins of the Eden-Dulles Antagonism: The Yoshida Letter and the Cold War in East Asia 1951-1952’ (Contemporary British History, Vol. 25, No.1, 2011).

‘The New Asia: Decolonization, the Cold War and the Making of Modern Southeast Asia’, in Gordon Martel, ed., The Blackwell Companion to International History 1900-2001 (Blackwell, 2007).


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 04:33:00