Kevin M. Kruse

Title
Professor of History
Office Phone
Office
215 Dickinson Hall
Office Hours

On Leave 2023-2024

Bio/Description

Kevin M. Kruse studies the political, social, and urban/suburban history of 20th-century America. Focused on conflicts over race, rights, and religion, he has particular interests in segregation and the civil rights movement, the rise of religious nationalism and the making of modern conservatism.

His first book, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005), won prizes including the 2007 Francis B. Simkins Award from the Southern Historical Association (for best first book in Southern history, 2005-2006) and the 2007 Best Book Award in Urban Politics from the American Political Science Association. His second book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015), examined the rise of American religious nationalism in the mid-twentieth century and its legacies in American political and religious life. (He discussed the book here with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.) Kruse also co-authored (with Julian Zelizer) the trade/textbook Fault Lines: A History of America Since 1974. The book chronicles the origins of the divided states of America, a nation increasingly riven by stark political partisanship and deep social divisions along lines of race, class, gender and sexuality. 

In addition to these works, Professor Kruse has also served as the co-editor of four collections: The New Suburban History (2006), with Thomas J. Sugrue; Spaces of the Modern City (2008), with Gyan Prakash; Fog of War: The Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement (2012) with Stephen Tuck; and, most recently, with Julian Zelizer, Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Lies and Legends about Our Past (2023), a book which debuted as an instant New York Times Best-Seller. (Kruse discussed the book with the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.)

Professor Kruse is currently writing his new book, The Division: John Doar, the Justice Department, and the Civil Rights Movement (contracted to Basic Books). The point man for civil rights for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Doar was a vital actor in countless crisis moments in the civil rights movement — pioneering voting rights lawsuits, personally confronting segregationists at Ole Miss and the University of Alabama, putting Klansmen on trial for the murders of civil rights workers (including the famous “Mississippi Burning” murders), helping craft and implement the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, literally leading the way in the Selma-to-Montgomery March, etc. Through the previously untapped papers of Doar, he hopes to provide new insights into these civil rights milestones as well as a new understanding of the ways in which the federal government worked (and didn’t work) during the racial revolution unfolding across the South.

After The Division, Kruse will turn his attention to Law and Order: The Politics of Crime and Culture in New York City (also contracted to Basic Books). Chronicling the political life of calls for “law and order” in NYC — from George Wallace’s 1968 appearance at Madison Square Garden through 1970s and 1980s scandals like Bernie Goetz and the Central Park Five, from Rudy Giuliani’s “broken windows” policing and the post-9/11 crackdowns, on to Donald Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign announcement at Trump Tower — this book will explore the origins and evolution of a powerful force in contemporary American politics.

Professor Kruse was honored as one of America's top young "Innovators in the Arts and Sciences" by the Smithsonian Magazine and selected as one of the top young historians in the country by the History News Network. He has recently been named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.

Teaching Interests

Professor Kruse has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on twentieth-century U.S. history, race and racism in modern American politics, the civil rights movement, postwar suburbia, and the Religious Right, among other topics.

Education

1994 B.A., History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
1997 M.A., History, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
2000 Ph.D., History, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Advisee(s):
Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Political History
Race & Ethnicity
Religion
Social History
Urban History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
History
Period
20th Century
Region
American South
United States