Call for Abstracts: Covert Action in the Early Cold War

Call for Abstracts: Covert Action in the Early Cold War

Project Title:

Covert Action in the Early Cold War: Rethinking Western Covert Operations against International Communism

Project Leaders/Principal Contributors:

Dr. Steve Long (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University); Dr. Sarah-Jane Corke (University of New Brunswick); Dr. Francesco Cacciatore (University of Salerno)

Scope, Core Themes and Coverage:

This book makes a fresh, original and timely contribution to historical interpretations of the early Cold War (1945-60) by examining the secret interventionism of US and western actors (understood as governments and intelligence agencies) to challenge international communism on a worldwide scale through the use of covert action. The book reassesses prominent historiographical themes of containment and rollback that have dominated historiographical debates of the period, moving beyond these frameworks to foster new methodological and conceptual discussions.

The project has a target publication date of 2025 to give scholars enough time to access archives in a post-Covid-19 world. 2025 marks the 80th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War. This momentous turning point in modern history ushered in an era of heightened geopolitical and ideological tensions between communist and non-communist actors.


This book makes a ground-breaking contribution to historical understandings of the early Cold War. It provides, for the first time, a country-by-country case study analysis by experts that will give micro perspectives on (amongst other things) the non/rationale, in/coherence, dis/continuity and non/impact of US and western covert action against international communism. It will provide fresh insights into the individual operations in each target country by drawing on the most recent archival evidence and latest historiographical debates in an extensive, systematic and unprecedented way. In particular, we hope to better understand the significance of intelligence history for broader understandings of the Cold War via the lens of US and western covert action as a worldwide campaign.

Chapters at the beginning and end of the book will frame core themes and draw broader conclusions by synthesising and analysing the findings of the individual chapters. In doing so, the book will provide a comparative perspective on the sum of the campaign and raise new questions about US and western covert action against international communism. It is hoped that the varied research themes (listed below) will allow researchers enough flexibility to pose their own questions and conclusions

We invite contributions on the following (non-exhaustive) research themes and questions:

  1. Policy: What was the nature of the policy underpinning covert action? Were policy objectives consistent against different target actors? Did the US and its allied states promote and pursue uniform policy goals?
  2. Strategy: Was there a coherent and consistent strategy underpinning US-led covert action? Was greater strategic coherence achieved in certain theatres over others?
  3. Tactics: What methods were employed at the operational level to achieve covert action objectives? Were similar or dissimilar tactics employed in the field against multiple targets? How effective were these tactics?
  4. Bureaucracy: What impact did covert action have on US and western government bureaucracy, particularly regarding the status and role of intelligence organisations? Did bureaucracy facilitate or impede the covert action programme?
  5. Economics: What role did economic factors play in the selection and implementation of covert action?
  6. Politics: In what ways did domestic and foreign political and geopolitical considerations affect the shaping and execution of covert action?
  7. Ideology and culture: To what extent was ideology and/or culture a significant factor? What ideational and ethical challenges were posed by the use of covert action?

Contributors’ Requirements:

We invite scholars with specialist knowledge of US and western covert action operations either against communist states or communist movements in non-communist states in the period 1945-60 to submit an abstract of 300 words. Your abstract should outline an 8,000- 10,000 word chapter (including notes) focussing on western covert action in one particular state or geographic area. The abstract should explain how you will address some of the research themes and questions outlined above. Preference will be given to scholars with an ability to examine files from the country of interest as well as English language files from western archives.

Please submit your 300-word abstract and a brief CV (1-2 pages) by email attachment to Dr. Steve Long at [email protected] or to Dr. Francesco Cacciatore at [email protected] by 30 April 30 2021. We also welcome any informal inquiries by email about the project.

Final adjudication on which chapters will be selected for the book will take place once the editors have reviewed all completed chapter submissions.

Proposed Schedule:

2021: Call for papers and selection of contributors 2022: Individual research

2023: Conference; presentation of work in progress papers

2024: Draft chapters due; feedback from editors, redrafting and final submission 2025: Book publication

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