Associate Professor of History
Modern United States history, transnational history, urban history
Brooke Blower’s research focuses on modern American political culture, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts.
Her first book, Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars (Oxford University Press, 2011) won the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies and the James P. Hanlan Best Book Award from the New England Historical Association. This book overturns common clichés about 1920s “Gay Paree,” offering a darker and more nuanced portrait of how Americans helped to shape the cultural politics of Paris between the wars, and, at the same time, how Paris helped to shape modern American political culture. Drawing on a range of sources in French as well as English, it reveals how the capital served as an important crossroads where Americans reimagined their position in the world and grappled with what it meant to be American in the new century, even as they came up against conflicting interpretations of US power by others.
Her most recent book is Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper (Oxford University Press, 2023). Combat GIs dominate the history of Americans abroad during World War II. But these soldiers constituted only a small fraction of the unprecedented millions of Americans stationed on six continents, both in and out of uniform, during the twentieth century’s signal conflict. Americans in a World at War tells a panoramic story of seven worldly noncombatants, their personal histories, their politics, and the paths that led them to all board the same seaplane bound for Lisbon in February 1943. When the Yankee Clipper crashed in the Tagus River, it took five of their lives but left a paper trail that leads to a richer, deeper understanding of the cross-cutting political and ideological dimensions of Americans’ war efforts.
Articles related to this project have appeared in the American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, and the book she co-edited with Mark P. Bradley, The Familiar Made Strange: American Icons and Artifacts after the Transnational Turn (Cornell University Press, 2015). Her publication “From Isolationism to Neutrality: A New Framework for Understanding American Political Culture, 1919-1941” Diplomatic History (April 2014), won the Stuart L. Bernath Article Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).
Blower has also received three prizes for her teaching at Boston University: the History Department Gitner Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Frank and Lynne Wisneski Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Metcalf Cup and Prize, the university’s highest teaching honor. She supervises PhD students working on a wide range of topics, which have included international politics and trade in American department stores between the Civil War and World War II; Allied troops’ “friendly occupation” of stateside U.S. liberty ports during World War II; overseas archaeological expeditions and preservation between the 1890s and 1940s; and gemstone mining and marketing in the US-Canadian borderlands.
She is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer as well as the recipient of SHAFR’s Stuart L. Bernath Lecture Prize. Her research has been supported by an NEH Public Scholars Fellowship, an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, the Peter T. Paul Career Development Professorship, and the American Philosophical Society.
With Sarah T. Phillips she founded and co-edited the inaugural five volumes of Modern American History, the Cambridge University Press journal that covers all aspects of United States history since the 1890s. With Andrew Preston she co-edited Volume 3 (1900-1945) of the Cambridge History of America in the World.