By: IAN BROWN
After taking a course in college on the Vietnam War, Professor Jonathan Nashel found his passion for learning about history. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University in New Jersey, before finding himself at IU South Bend, where he has made his home for the past 20 years.
Though his field of interest is American history, he defines himself as a “Cold War historian,” which is the period after World War II, until after the 1990s.
“I’m interested in its origins and how that led us into the Vietnam War,” said Nashel. “I’m interested in both how Americans thought about it and how Soviet citizens thought about it, and how people from other countries thought about it.”
In 2005, Nashel’s book, “Edward Lansdale’s Cold War,” was published. The book accounts the life of Lansdale’s role in the CIA and his influence in Vietnam, Cuba and the Cold War. The book has gained a lot of notoriety across the country and is available for purchase on Amazon. Even a 2006 New York Times article features an interview conducted by James Gibney on Nashel and his book.
Currently, Nashel is working on his next book about the CIA and how Americans have come to think of the organization.
“I’m really interested in how American culture and world culture portrays the CIA, in how people are both fascinated and repulsed by the CIA,” said Nashel, jokingly adding that he is using the book as an excuse to write about James Bond.
Appearing on C-SPAN3’s American History TV in 2013, Nashel had the opportunity to give a 45-minute speech on the famous English spy James Bond, where Nashel argues that Bond’s character is more of an American hero than English hero.
Nashel’s enthusiasm doesn’t only apply to his personal work; he is just as passionate about his teaching. Freshmen students will have the opportunity to read about James Bond and learn about the events surrounding the Cold War in Nashel’s HIST-T190 course in the spring.
Also in the spring, he will be teaching a class called “American History Through Film.” He will be showing famous and not-so-famous clips from silent movies and more recent films and encouraging students to join him.
“I’ll be showing lots of clips and having students think about how Hollywood has portrayed America history,” said Nashel.