Photo of GSW Chair Kathryn Olmsted - she is smiling and sitting in front of a leafy green background. She is wearing a navy blue sweater with a red and white pattern.

Position Title
Interim Chair of GSW
Professor of History

1223 Hart Hall

Kathryn Olmsted studies the cultural and political history of the United States since World War I. Her first book, Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996) examined the congressional and journalistic investigations of the CIA and FBI after Watergate, while her second book, Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002), analyzed the origins and significance of the spy scare of the 1940s. Her third book,  Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009), explored the dynamic relationship between real government conspiracies and anti-government conspiracy theories. Her fourth book, Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism (The New Press, 2015), analyzed the conservative reaction to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Her most recent book, The Newspaper Axis: Six Press Barons Who Enabled Hitler, looks at the isolationist media in the US and the UK in the 1930s and 1940s. Professor Olmsted also co-edited a book on the history of the Central Intelligence Agency and published several journal articles and book chapters that highlight her overlapping areas of expertise: conspiracy theories, government secrecy, espionage, counterintelligence, and anticommunism.