January 21, 2016


John Mueller is Woody Hayes Senior Research Scientist at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies of Ohio State University. He is also adjunct professor of Political Science at Ohio State and a Cato Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

He is currently mostly working on terrorism and particularly on the reactions and costly over-reactions it often inspires. His book, Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism, written in collaboration with engineer and risk analyst Mark Stewart, was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press. A related book, Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security, also with Stewart and also applying cost-benefit analysis to issues of homeland security, published in 2011 by Oxford. He has also written Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (Free Press, 2006). The New York Times called the book “important” and “accurate, timely, and necessary.”   

Mueller’s 2010 book, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda (Oxford University Press), suggests that atomic terrorism is highly unlikely and that efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation frequently have damaging results.  His War and Ideas: Selected Essays was published in 2011 by Routledge. He is also the editor of a set of case studies, Terrorism Since 9/11: The American Cases, which was first published as a webbook in 2011 by the Mershon Center and has been updated and expanded each year since. With Christopher Preble, he is the editor of A Dangerous World? Threat Perception and U.S. National Security, published by the Cato Institute in 2014.

Mueller is the author of a multiple-prize-winning book analyzing public opinion during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (Wiley, 1973) (“a classic” according to the American Political Science Review) and of Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (Basic Books, 1989) which deals with changing attitudes toward war. In a front page review of this latter book in the Sunday book section of the Washington Post, McGeorge Bundy commented, “Mueller makes you think, and his method of argument combines fresh insights with trenchant prose in a way that makes thoughtful reading agreeable.” Mueller has also published Policy and Opinion in the Gulf War (University of Chicago Press, 1994) and Quiet Cataclysm: Reflections on the Recent Transformation of World Politics (HarperCollins, 1995).  His Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery was published in 1999 by Princeton University Press. In his review in The Weekly Standard, David J. Silver writes, “Mueller’s provocative book deserves a wide audience. . . . Mueller writes sharp, brisk, and witty prose that is unfailingly lucid.” Mueller’s book about international and civil wars, The Remnants of War, was published by Cornell University Press in 2004. Writing in The New Republic, Gregg Easterbrook called it “brilliantly original and urgent.” It was awarded the Lepgold Prize from Georgetown University for the best book on international relations in 2004. Retreat from Doomsday (expanded and updated), Quiet Cataclysm, and War, Presidents and Public Opinion have been reprinted.

Mueller has published hundreds of articles in such journals as International Security, American Political Science Review, American Interest, Security Studies, Orbis, American Journal of Political Science, Risk Analysis, National Interest, Foreign Affairs, Lapham’s Quarterly, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Policy Studies Journal, International Interactions, Political Science Quarterly, Journal of Economic Perspectives, International Studies Perspectives, Terrorism and Political Violence, Issues in Science and Technology, Chronicle of Higher Education, Journal of Peace Research, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Risk Analysis, Review of International Studies, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Foreign Policy, as well as editorial page columns and articles in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, ABA Human Rights Magazine, Nation, American Conservative, Regulation, Reason, Huffington Post, Time, Slate, Washington Post, New York Newsday, Playboy, and New York Times. He has been a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

He has appeared on television on “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” view here, “Hannity and Colmes,” “Nightly Business Report” on PBS, “The National” on CBC, and “20/20” with John Stossel, and on radio on “The Michael Medved Show,” the BBC, and on NPR’s “On Point,” “Marketplace,” and “All Things Considered.”

In another field, he is the author of Astaire Dancing (Knopf, 1985). Before publication this book won the de la Torre Bueno prize of Dance Perspectives Foundation as the “most distinguished manuscript on dance;” since publication, it has been called “one of the most satisfying, rich and witty film books ever written” by Kirkus Reviews, and “an extraordinary study of film art” by the New York Times. The book furnishes a detailed assessment of each of Astaire’s 31 musical films and analysis of each musical number including 2344 frame pictures. This book has now been digitally remastered and republished with a new preface by the author. The frame pictures in the new edition have been recaptured in far higher quality than in the original, and those from color films are presented in color.

Mueller also provides the commentary track on the DVD version of the 1936 Astaire-Rogers film, “Swing Time.” He is the director of Ohio State’s Dance Film Archive, a set of DVDs, videotapes, and 16mm films that are available for purchase and rental.

Also to his credit are scripts for two musicals. One of these, A Foggy Day, combines a P.G. Wodehouse play with songs by George and Ira Gershwin and, co-written by Norm Foster, was produced for the 1998 and 1999 seasons at the Shaw Festival, in Ontario, Canada for over 250 performances (all sold out) over the two seasons. Another, One For My Baby, derives from a Fred Astaire film and makes use of songs with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Before coming to Ohio State in 2000, Mueller was on the faculty at the University of Rochester for many years. From 2000 to 2011, he was the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at Ohio State’s Mershon Center and a professor of political science. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also received several teaching prizes, and in 2009 received the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award that “recognizes a person whose singular intellect, assertiveness, and insight most challenge conventional wisdom and intellectual and organizational complacency in the international studies community.” In 2010, he received Ohio State University’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He was also selected for the Playboy Honor Roll of 20 Professors Who Are Reinventing the Classroom in the October 2010 issue of the magazine. In 2015, he delivered the PRIO Annual Peace Address in Oslo, Norway.  

Complete curriculum vita (html) (pdf)