James Comey to speak in ‘The Big Picture’ lecture series

James Comey
James Comey

The Big Picture” lecture series — sponsored by the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy — will continue its fall lineup with an event featuring former FBI director James Comey this Monday, Oct. 7.

Comey will be joined by Yale history professor Beverly Gage, director of the Grand Strategy program, and Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent and now senior lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

One of the aims of the series, says Beverly Gage, director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, “is to think broadly and historically, rather than be caught up in what is a pretty relentless news cycle.”

Pairing practitioners with historians in conversation with each other in the lecture series can provide some of the big picture ideas that are hard to see when you are in the trenches, says Gage. “History can provide a very good set of the kinds of questions that you ought to be asking, the kinds of mistakes that you want to try not to make, the things that have worked in the past, and can be a way of reframing some of what’s going on. “

What Gage is most looking forward about the lecture series is the opportunity to hear reflections on the lived experience of this moment. “It has been so dramatic these last few years. A lot of the people who we are bringing in are people who have experienced that drama from the inside. As a historian I tend to be able to look back and try to imagine people’s lived experience, but I’m excited to actually hear about it from people as history is being made.”

Beverly Gage and Asha Rangappa
Beverly Gage and Asha Rangappa

The Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy was founded in 2000 by Yale professors John Lewis Gaddis, Paul Kennedy, and Charles Hill and received an endowment to continue in 2006 from Yale alumni Nicholas F. Brady and Charles B. Johnson. The program addresses large-scale, long-term strategic challenges of statecraft and politics — and was recently expanded by Gage to consider questions about social change and democratic institutions. The program aims to encourage historical understanding of contemporary challenges and develop students’ capacity for strategic thinking and effective leadership in the arena of public service, broadly conceived.

The event will be held at 5 p.m. in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall (SSS) auditorium, 1 Prospect St. Additional lectures in the series are listed below. The lectures are free and open to the public, and will be recorded.

Upcoming ‘Big Picture’ events

Monday, Oct. 7

The FBI: Past, Present, and Future,” with Comey, Beverly Gage, and Asha Rangappa.

Comey was the seventh director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; former deputy attorney general under Attorney General John Ashcroft; and former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

Gage, who is a professor of history and American studies, is the author of the forthcoming book “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the American Century.”

Rangappa is a senior lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She previously served as a special agent for the FBI specializing in counterintelligence investigations in New York City from 2002 to 2005, and currently is a legal and national security analyst for CNN.

Blood, Soil, and God: a Discussion About Identity and Foreign Policy

Monday, Nov. 11

Blood, Soil, and God: a Discussion About Identity and Foreign Policy,” with Ross Douthat, op-ed columnist at The New York Times; Carlos Eire, the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and professor of religious studies; and Victoria Nuland, former ambassador to NATO and former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs (2013-2017), who is a Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy.

The event will take place at 5 p.m. in Rm. 201 of Sudler Hall, 100 Wall St. 

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Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,