Dr David Strieff is a LSE Teaching Fellow of International History. His research focuses on the history of American foreign relations, with an emphasis on the Middle East. His first book, Jimmy Carter and the Middle East: The Politics of Presidential Diplomacy, was released by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015, and is based on his PhD thesis done in the Department under the supervision of Dr Kirsten E. Schulze and Professor Steven Casey. Dr Strieff teaches two undergraduate courses in the Department, HY113: From Empire to Independence: The Extra-European World in the Twentieth Century (taught jointly with other faculty) and HY328 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Nationalism, Territory, Religion. At postgraduate level, he teaches HY422 - Presidents, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, from Roosevelt to Reagan, 1933-89.
What year did you join the department?
I came to the International History Department in 2004 to pursue a part-time Master’s degree while working full time. After finishing that and working a few more years, I began my PhD at LSE in 2009, finished in 2013, and ultimately became an International History Fellow in 2016.
What research project are you currently working on?
I’m working on my second book right now. It’s a new history of the 1979-81 Iran Hostage Crisis. My angle is to examine the roles played by the news media and domestic politics in the episode.
Where do you live?
I’ve lived in North London since 2009. In total, I’ve lived in Britain for more than 15 years, which is still difficult for me to get my head around.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a bucolic little town in the San Francisco Bay Area. Northern California will always be home, however far I roam or wherever I end up.
Why did you want to come to LSE?
My career path has been pretty quixotic, and my decision to come to LSE fits that pattern. I came equally for LSE’s geographic convenience to what I was doing at the time and the history department’s strength in the 20th century. Also, I had always been very parochial in outlook, and I wanted to be immersed in a new environment to help me grow.
Why did you want to become an historian?
Truthfully, I never really thought about it. It just grew out of a desire to learn more about the world around me. To me, history has proven to be the best vehicle for learning how and why we arrived here.
What is your favourite library and archive?
My favourite archival trip was to Beirut because of the city’s troubled beauty, but I also enjoy the New York Public Library Archives because I can pretend I’m in “Ghostbusters.”
If you could bring one famous historical person back to life, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?
Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson have always fascinated me, and for similar reasons: two humble guys who faced extraordinary prejudice with dignity merely by excelling in their chosen activities (athletics and baseball, respectively) on the merits. I’d like to ask them about their lives after the cheering ended.
Something tells me Peter the Great would be an incredible guy to party with, though I’d be unlikely to survive it.
If you had a time machine, where and what era would you go?
At the risk of sounding corny, I feel lucky to have been born when and where I did. Any previous era and place would probably be much harder. And dirtier.
What is the best part of teaching in the Department and the part you enjoy least?
Best: Seeing and helping students learn. I feel privileged to have the chance to work with such talented and capable students from all over the world.
Worst: Well, does anyone really like marking papers … ?
If you could give your younger student self some advice, what would it be?
Be curious, engaged, and enthusiastic for new experiences.
What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
If I could separate dumb (too many to count- ha ha ha, sigh) from dangerous, maybe skydiving, cave diving, caving, bungee jumping, some gnarly ski runs …
When I was younger, I wanted to work as a rodeo clown, but I have a paralysing fear of clowns more generally, so, yeah, that was never going to happen.
How do you like to relax?
Go to the mountains and run around with a dog.
What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Any episode of The Office (US version – sorry/not sorry).
What is your favourite fiction book?
This is always shifting, but some constants: Love in the Time of Cholera; Rabbit, Run; The Sun Also Rises; Anna Karenina; The Master and Margarita.
What is the most memorable place you have ever visited?
Fiji, with Baalbeck in Lebanon a very close second.
What would we be most surprised to learn about you?
Don’t ask about my toes.