David Unger (journalist)

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David Unger
David C Unger.jpg
David Unger in a photo on January 3, 2009 in Genoa (photo by Markus Wiedemeier)
Born March 5, 1947
Brooklyn, New York
Status married
Occupation Journalist
Notable credit(s) The New York Times
Title Foreign Affairs Writer, Editorial Board Member
Spouse(s) Kathleen Quinn

David C. Unger (born March 5, 1947 in Brooklyn, NY, USA) is a journalist, former foreign affairs editorial writer for The New York Times (1977–2013) and author of the book The Emergency State. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies Europe, at Bologna and Contributing Editor at Survival.[1][2][3][4]

Unger received an A.B. in History and Comparative Literature from Cornell University, a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin and has done additional graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Institute for Historical Research, University of London.

He studied American foreign policy with Walter LaFeber at Cornell, economic history with W.W. Rostow and M.M. Postan at the University of Texas, and British labor history with E.J. Hobsbawm at the University of London.

Early life[edit]

Unger grew up in Brooklyn and attended New York City public schools through high school. After receiving his bachelor's from Cornell he worked as an elementary school teacher in public schools in Brooklyn and Staten Island for three years.

He began work at The New York Times in 1977 as a news clerk for its editorial board while completing his doctorate from the University of Texas.[1]


In addition to numerous articles he has written for The New York Times and other periodicals, Unger wrote the book, The Emergency State (published 2012) in which, according to a review in The New York Times, he "...deplores what he sees as Washington’s obsession with security and overreliance on military and intelligence capabilities, arguing that they are dangerous perversions of the country’s Jeffersonian traditions."[4]

Other recent publications include chapters he contributed to Origins of the National Security State and The Legacy of Harry S. Truman (2015) and a 2013 Italian-language book, 22 novembre 1963, Il giorno in cui ci svegliammo dal sogno cinquat'anni dopo: JFK visto dagli americani d'Italia (22 November 1963, Fifty years after the day we woke from the dream: Views of JFK by Americans in Italy) titled, "Un americano amico dell’Europa" ("An American Friend of Europe").[5] His essay, "A Better Internationalism" was published in the spring, 2012 edition of World Policy Journal[6]

Professional Organizations[edit]

Unger has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1989;[7] the Foreign Policy Roundtable, in New York City (from 1997 to 2007); a presenter and discussion leader at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs - on topics such as Wealth and Terror: Why America’s Quest for Absolute Security Is a Mission Impossible that Can Also Destroy Our Democracy (2007) and Maps of War, Maps of Peace: Finding a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Question (2002) - and a guest seminar leader at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, on Obama and U.S. Foreign Policy (Nov., 2008).


In addition to his native English, Unger speaks, reads and writes French, Italian and Spanish.[2]


  1. ^ a b The New York Times, 1977-2013
  2. ^ a b Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, Bologna, Italy; Faculty
  3. ^ Television Interview with David Unger by Jeff Glor CBS News, March 8, 2012
  4. ^ a b Tepperman, Jonathan. "Fear Factor: David C. Unger's 'The Emergency State' The New York Times, March 16, 2012
  5. ^ Unger, David. "Un americano amico dell'Europa" ("An American friend of Europe"), 22 novembre 1963, Il giorno in cui ci svegliammo dal sogno cinquat'anni dopo: JFK visto dagli americani d'Italia (22 November 1963, Fifty years after the day we woke from the dream: Views of JFK by Americans in Italy), Monti; Saronno, Italy, 2013
  6. ^ Unger, David. "A Better Internationalism" World Policy Journal, spring 2012
  7. ^ Council on Foreign Relations, Membership Roster

Selected Publications[edit]

Selected Presentations[edit]

  • "The US-Italy relationship in a Changing World" (Panel discussion sponsored by Istituto Affair Internazionale and US Embassy, Rome (May 2018)
  • "America First, Political and Cultural Nationalism in the US" (Centro di Studi Americani e Transatlantici P. Bairati, Universita di Torino (December 2017)
  • "How the National Security Act of 1947 built the foundations for a peacetime national security state" (Panel discussion, American Historical Association, Denver, USA (Jan. 7, 2017)
  • "Post US Presidential Elections – The foreign policy debate" (Panel discussion, Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe Bologna, Italy (Dec. 5, 2016)
  • "The Election of Donald Trump: What does It mean for Europe, the world, and the United States?" (Faculty of Political Science, University of Cagliari, Italy (Nov. 22, 2016)

Television Appearance[edit]

Website (Bologna Institute for Policy Research, Johns Hopkins University)[edit]