Matt Dallek

Faculty: Full-Time


Matthew Dallek is associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, a political historian, and a frequent commentator in the news media on politics, history, and public affairs. His most recent book Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security (Oxford University Press) recounts the fears of attacks on the home front during World War II and chronicles the epic battle between Eleanor Roosevelt, who proposed a wartime New Deal as part of “home defense, and New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who campaigned to militarize millions of citizens and build a fourth military branch in order to defend the lives of 130 million Americans against the threat of fascist militarism.

Dallek's first book The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (Free Press, 2000; paperback, Oxford University Press, 2004) traced the birth of the "Reagan Revolution" to the social turmoil of mid-1960s California. His book chronicled how Reagan and the right figured out which buttons to push and how liberalism responded to Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, civil rights, the Watts riots, and antiwar protests. His book appeared on the Washington Post’s and Chicago Tribune’s annual best-of lists. Dallek is also co-author of Inside Campaigns: Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals (CQ/Sage, 2016), which offers an insiders’ portrait of how political campaigns are waged and how campaigns can and often do help determine election outcomes.

Dallek's essays and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the L.A. Times, Politico, Slate, Yahoo News, the Journal of Policy History, Reviews in American History, and numerous other scholarly and popular publications. His commentary has also been heard on numerous radio and television programs including NPR, the BBC, MSNBC, and CNN International.

Prior to arriving at GSPM in 2014, Dallek was associate director at the University of California Washington Center, where he taught courses on Congress, the Presidency, Washington's political culture, and language and power. Dallek has held fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, George Washington’s School of Media and Public Affairs, and the Alicia M. Patterson Foundation. He has also been appointed as a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. Dallek graduated from U.C. Berkeley with high honors in history and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia. After finishing his doctorate, he worked as a communications aide and speechwriter for House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dallek lives in Washington with his wife and two sons.

Follow him on Twitter @mattdallek


Ph.D., Columbia University

M.A., Columbia University

B.A., University of California, Berkeley



The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics” (Free Press, 2000; Oxford University Press, 2004)                                    

In Progress: “‘Think War, Sleep War, and Eat War’: Eleanor Roosevelt, Fiorello La Guardia, and the Struggle to Enact a Wartime New Deal and Defend the Home Front in World War II” (Oxford University Press)


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Ken Goldstein, Matthew Dallek, Joel Rivlin, “Even the Geeks are Polarized: The Dispute over the ‘Real Driver’ in American Elections,” The Forum (2014)

Matthew Dallek, Ken Goldstein, "Was It a Wave? What Does It Mean?," The Forum (2014)

Forthcoming: “London Burning: The Blitz of England and the Origins of 'Home Defense' in Twentieth-Century America,” Journal of Policy History (2015)


Other Writings

Review of David Nasaw’s The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, Journal of American History (2014)

Contributor, The American Odyssey: A History of the United States, Ed. By Morton Keller, Mary Beth Klee, Joshua Zeitz, and John Holdren.

“Civic Security,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. (2008)

“Rough Times for Obama? Sure. But Nixonian? Please.” Op-Ed, The Washington Post Sunday Outlook Section (cover) (2013)

“Review of The Promise: President Obama, Year One,” by Jonathan Alter, The Washington Post Book World (cover). (2010)

“History Warns Obama on Primaries,” Politico. (2010)

“The Rift that Could Kill Health Care,” The Daily Beast. (2010)

“A Long Tradition,” op-ed,, “Room for Debate blog.” (2009)

“Not Ready for Mt. Rushmore,” The American Scholar. (2009)

“On Voting Rights, the Court Finds Consensus,” co-authored with Mary Ellen Curtin, (2009)

“Theodore C. Sorensen: Words to Inspire,” Humanities, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. (2009)

“Revisionists Offer Blind View of New Deal,” Politico. (2009)