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Dr Bill Foster

Dr Bill Foster

Vice-Principal, Homerton College.

Lecturer in the History of Modern War.

Global/international perspectives on the Cold War.


I am a British historian, born in America and educated in Switzerland. I hold degrees from Pennsylvania, Cornell and Cambridge.

Subject groups/Research projects

American History:
Modern European History:

Departments and Institutes

Homerton College:

Research Interests

Originally trained as a historian of the British and French empires, in recent years I have turned my attention to the intersection of the history of imperialism with the international history of the Cold War. I am specifically interested in historical roots of geopolitical strategies adopted by nations, emerging nations, regions, local insurgencies, resistance movements/leaders, and diminishing empires after 1945. My work is mostly grounded in the overseas experiences of the USA, Britain, and France, with a related special interest in the history of Swiss 'armed neutrality' in Cold War context.

Research Supervision

I am not currently accepting new research students.


History Part I: paper 18 (modern Europe); paper 24 (modern America), selected topics in paper 23 (modern world).

History and Politics Part 1B: Research questions on 'The Nuclear Age'.

Key Publications

Currently in progress:

Crossroads of Secrecy: Swiss Intelligence and the Global Crises of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Europeans in the Nuclear Age: A History of Living with the Strategies and Politics of Mass Destruction   

Empire in the Blood: A thousand years of British History through the eyes of the Grey family -- from royalty, ministers, and generals to imperialists, rebels, scholars and adventurers (book co-written with Rose Grey). 

Other Publications

Slavery, Commerce and Empire: America's first encounters with the inner Arab world (manuscript optioned by Cornell University Press).

The Captor's Narrative (Cornell University Press 2003, paper 2011).