Edward Bew

Edward Bew


I completed my BA in History & Sociology at the University of Leeds. It was during my final year that I specialised in Cold War international history, specifically the special subject module entitled the Global Vietnam War, as well as for my thesis on the justification for the atomic bomb. It was entitled ‘Harry Truman, Soviet Co-operation, and the Atomic Bomb as a Tool of Containment’. I graduated in 2020.

I returned to Leeds to study for my MA in Modern History the following year. Building upon my learning from the special subject module, my MA thesis investigated British involvement in Vietnam and the Southeast Asian Commonwealth, from 1970-1973. This focussed predominantly on the peace-seeking stage of the war, looking at how Britain attempted to support its transatlantic ally when world opinion was resoundingly negative, and also how Britain tried to play a major role in the region’s present and future. My thesis was entitled ‘Continued Global Involvement in a post-East of Suez Retreat World: Heath, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia, 1970-1973’.

Research interests

My research interests are based mainly around the Cold War, particularly Britain’s and the United States’ foreign policy during this period. My PhD research acts on this, and I am looking at British involvement in Southeast Asia, following the United States’ massive withdrawal from the region as well as Harold Wilson’s ‘East of Suez’ retreat speech in 1968. Some questions I hope to answer over the course of my project are as follows:

  • How did Britain offset the vacuum left by the Americans in Southeast Asia following their failure in Vietnam? And with what success?
  • Was the hardened response to Sovietism (Communism) in Southeast Asia justified in the age of détente?
  • How was the emergence of China (PRC) to its southern neighbours managed?
  • How did Britain progress from formal and informal empire in the region to one of co-operation and partnership?
  • How do British actions in Southeast Asia contribute to the discussion concerning Britain’s international / global decline?

To this end, I am in the process of learning Malay. This will allow me to go beyond the confines of English-dominated recalling of international history which, until recently, has been heavily English language and source base focussed. In turn, this will enable me to assess Britain’s regional impact as perceived by other countries in the region, and to explore the impact of the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the Fall of Saigon as a dramatic moment in the region’s sense of security and political identity.

In more general terms, I hold an overarching interest in the following areas:

  • The Global Cold War.
  • The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’.
  • The use of soft diplomacy during the Cold War.
  • East-West relations during the 20th Century.

I welcome any correspondence on these topics, whether that be through academic discussion or potential avenues for collaboration.  


  • MA Modern History
  • BA History & Sociology