John J. Mearsheimer Receives the 2020 James Madison Award

The James Madison Award is presented every three years by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor an American political scientist who has made a distinguished scholarly contribution to political science.  The Madison Lecture will be held on Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 12:00pm MDT as part of the virtual APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition.

John J. Mearsheimer graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.  He then started graduate school in political science at Cornell University in 1975.  He received his Ph.D. in 1980.  He spent the 1979-1980 academic year as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs from 1980 to 1982.  During the 1998-1999 academic year, he was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Professor Mearsheimer has written extensively about security issues and international politics more generally.  He has published six books: Conventional Deterrence (1983), which won the Edgar S. Furniss, Jr., Book Award; Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988); The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001, 2014), which won the Joseph Lepgold Book Prize and has been translated into nine different languages; The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Stephen M. Walt, 2007), which made the New York Times best seller list and has been translated into twenty-four different languages; Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics (2011), which has been translated into twelve different languages; and The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2018) which has been translated into five different languages and was the recipient of the 2019 Best Book of the Year Award from the Valdai Discussion Conference, Moscow.

He has also written many articles that have appeared in academic journals like International Security, and popular magazines like Foreign Affairs and the London Review of Books.  Furthermore, he has written op-ed pieces for newspapers like the New York Times and the Financial Times dealing with topics like Bosnia, nuclear proliferation, U.S. policy towards India, the failure of Arab-Israeli peace efforts, the folly of invading Iraq, the causes of the Ukrainian crisis, and the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Finally, Professor Mearsheimer holds several awards and honors.  He received the Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching when he was a graduate student at Cornell in 1977, and he won the Quantrell Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Chicago in 1985.  He was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 1993-1994 academic year.  In that capacity, he gave a series of talks at eight colleges and universities.  He received honorary doctorates from universities in China, Greece, and Romania; and in 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Citation from the Award Committee:

After some consideration of all worthy nominees, the committee is delighted to select John J. Mearsheimer for the 2020 James Madison Award.  Mearsheimer is currently the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982.  He is widely recognized as one of the leading International Relations scholars in the world and a prominent public intellectual.  Mearsheimer has written six books – including the very influential The Tragedy of Great Power Politics – and dozens of scholarly articles in leading journals.  He is one of the most cited International Relations scholars in the discipline, but his works are read well beyond the academy as well.  As Stephen M. Walt noted in his nomination letter, John J. Mearsheimer “casts a very long shadow indeed.”

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Ayse Zarakol (chair), University of Cambridge; Dr. Steven S. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis; and Susan Welch, Pennsylvania State University.