Alfred W. McCoy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alfred W. McCoy
Alfred William McCoy

(1945-06-08) June 8, 1945 (age 78)
Concord, Massachusetts, United States
SpouseMary McCoy
Parent(s)Alfred Mudge McCoy, Jr. (father)
Margarita Piel (mother)
RelativesLady Margarita Ground (sister)
Piel Brothers (ancestors) Margarita McCoy (Daughter)
Academic background
Alma materColumbia University (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA)
Yale University (PhD)
ThesisYloilo: Factional Conflict in a Colonial Economy, Iloilo Province, Philippines, 1937-1955 (1977)
Doctoral advisorHarold C. Conklin
Academic work
InstitutionsYale University
University of New South Wales
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Doctoral studentsTemario Rivera (1994)
Main interestsHistory of the Philippines
Foreign policy of the United States
European colonisation of Southeast Asia
Illegal drug trade
Central Intelligence Agency covert operations
Notable worksThe Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (1972)

Alfred "Al" William McCoy (born June 8, 1945) is an American historian and educator. He is the Fred Harvey Harrington Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1] He specializes in the history of the Philippines, foreign policy of the United States, European colonisation of Southeast Asia, illegal drug trade, and Central Intelligence Agency covert operations.


Born in Concord, Massachusetts, to Alfred Mudge McCoy, Jr. and Margarita Piel, a noted urban planner, educator, and descendant of the originators of Piels Beer, McCoy graduated from the Kent School in 1964, where he earned varsity letters in football, rowing, and wrestling.[2] He earned a Bachelor of Arts in European History from Columbia University in 1968, a Master of Arts in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Southeast Asian History from Yale University in 1977. His dissertation, advised by Harold C. Conklin was entitled Yloilo: Factional Conflict in a Colonial Economy, Iloilo Province, Philippines, 1937-1955, which examined the region of Iloilo.

McCoy began his teaching career as a lecturer at Yale, while he was still a doctoral student (1976-1977). He spent the next academic year as a research fellow at the Australian National University. McCoy remained in Australia at the University of New South Wales as a lecturer (1978-1981), senior lecturer (1981-1985), and was eventually promoted to associate professor (1985-1989). He returned to the United States in 1989 as a full professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has since spent his career. McCoy has been given two endowed chairs during his tenure: John R.W. Smail (2004-2015) and Fred Harvey Harrington (2015-present).

Congressional testimony[edit]

As a Ph.D candidate in Southeast Asian history at Yale, McCoy testified before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee on June 2, 1972, and "accused American officials of condoning and even cooperating with corrupt elements in Southeast Asia's illegal drug trade out of political and military considerations."[3] One of his major charges was that South Vietnam's President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, Vice President Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, and Prime Minister Trần Thiện Khiêm led a narcotics ring with ties to the Corsican mafia, the Trafficante crime family in Florida, and other high level military officials in South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.[3] Those implicated by McCoy included Laotian Generals Ouane Rattikone and Vang Pao and South Vietnamese Generals Đặng Văn Quang and Ngô Dzu.[3] He told the subcommittee that these military officials facilitated the distribution of heroin to American troops in Vietnam and addicts in the United States.[3] According to McCoy, the Central Intelligence Agency chartered Air America aircraft and helicopters in northern Laos to transport opium harvested by their "tribal mercenaries".[3] He also accused United States Ambassador to Laos G. McMurtrie Godley of blocking the assignment of Bureau of Narcotics officials to Laos in order to maintain the Laotian government's cooperation in military and political matters.[3] A spokesman for the United States Department of State responded to the allegations: "We are aware of these charges but we have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate them, much less proof."[3]

Documenting the Marcos dictatorship[edit]

McCoy's work on the administration of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos has influenced not only the academic documentation regarding the dictatorship, but in some cases had a direct impact on the actual events - such as the publication in the New York Times of his investigation on Marcos' "fake medals," just week before the 1986 Philippine presidential election and Marcos' eventual ouster during the People Power Revolution.[4][5]



Film credits include:[6]

Year Film Role
2003 Plan Colombia: Cashing In on the Drug War Failure Self
2007 Ghosts of Abu Ghraib Self
2007 Taxi to the Dark Side Self
2011 War on Terror Self
2019 Clean Torture: An American Fabrication Self

Television credits include:[6]

Year Television show Role
2009-2022 Democracy Now! Self
2017 On Contact Self





See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Alfred W. McCoy." Department of History, University of Wisconsin. Archived from the original.
  2. ^ Van Gelder, Lindsy. "Daily Closeup: He Almost Joined Them". New York Post, August 25, 1972.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Heroin Charges Aired". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Vol. XLVII, no. 131. Daytona Beach Florida. AP. June 3, 1972. p. 6. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  4. ^ "Marcos Blasts U.S. Reports He Was a Phony War Hero : American Records Fail to Back Him". Los Angeles Times. 1986-01-23. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  5. ^ "McCoy, Alfred W." Department of History. 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  6. ^ a b "Alfred W. McCoy". IMDb.
  7. ^ Online version is titled "How an article about the H-bomb landed Scientific American in the middle of the Red Scare".

External links[edit]