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Matthew Pembleton History

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PhD, History, American University, 2014
MA, History, American University, 2008
BA, History and Political Science, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 2003

Matthew R. Pembleton is an historian of 20th century America. His research revolves around government, U.S. public health and safety, and the relationships between politics and culture, citizen and state, and the U.S. and the world. His first book, Containing Addiction: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Origins of America’s Global Drug War (2017), tells the story of the nation's first drug enforcement agency and its quest to police drugs at home and around the world. Matt has taught at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Howard Community College, and American University. He is also a Fellow at the DC Policy Center and a history consultant at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. His writing has been featured in the Journal of American Culture, the Journal of Cold War Studies, History News Network, and the Washington Post.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

Containing Addiction: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Origins of America’s Global Drug War (University of Massachusetts Press, Dec 2017)

Distilling the Past at Mt. Vernon,” Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drug History Society, Dec. 14, 2018

George H.W. Bush’s biggest failure? The war on drugs,” Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2018

Synthetics: the next chapter in the D.C. region’s drug crisis,” DC Policy Center, Oct. 3, 2018

How the D.C. region is responding to the opioid crisis; naloxone saves lives, but it’s only the first step,” with Kathryn Zickuhr, DC Policy Center, April 30, 2018

Confronting the opioid—and fentanyl—crisis in the District,” DC Policy Center, Feb. 8, 2018

While government cracked down on illegal drugs, Big Pharma hooked millions on opioids,” with David Herzberg, Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2017

We’ve spent a century fighting the war on drugs. It helped create an opioid crisis,” Washington Post, Aug. 31, 2017

There’s One Last Big-Ticket Item on Trump’s Agenda: A War on Drugs,” History News Network, Feb. 26, 2017

 “Imagining a Global Sovereignty: U.S. Counternarcotic Operations in Istanbul during the Early Cold War and the Origins of the Foreign ‘War on Drugs’,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 2016, pp. 28-63 (Paywalled Link)

 “The Voice of the Bureau: How Frederic Sondern and the Bureau of Narcotics Crafted a Drug War and Shaped Popular Understanding of Drugs, Addiction, and Organized Crime in the 1950s,” The Journal of American Culture Vol. 38, No. 2, June 2015, pp. 113-129 (Paywalled Link)

Media Appearances

George H. W. Bush Remembered for Ramping Up the War on Drugs,” Worldview, WBEZ, December 11, 2018

"Containing Addiction," Right Mind Media, WUMB, December 10, 2018.

Annie Rouse, "Anslinger’s Army of Allies," Anslinger: the Untold Cannabis Conspiracy, November 5, 2018.

Katja Schaer, “La Chine ouverte à une coopération avec les USA pour contrôler le fentanyl,” Radio Télévision Suisse, July 11, 2018.

Stephan Pimpare, “New Books in American Studies: Matthew R. Pembleton: Containing Addiction,” New Book Network, May 25, 2018.