Rev. Wilson “Bill” Miscamble, C.S.C. is a Holy Cross priest, history professor and historian at Notre Dame who studies U.S. diplomatic and political history. Originally from Australia, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Queensland and a doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame. After graduating, he returned to Australia for a brief time before entering the seminary at Notre Dame. Miscamble has received the Harry S. Truman Book Award for two of his books.
What 20th century president do you most admire?
Students sometimes ask me who is my favorite president and I’m always hesitant to tell them because I don’t want to influence their own views. But it’s the president whose foreign policy I have written on at some length: Harry S. Truman. I admire Truman for his decency of character and that he was a good man who did his best in the position. He’s not the most brilliant person ever to serve as president, but he was aware of his own limitations and sought to compensate for them by selecting very able people to work with him. On the big questions — responding to the Soviet challenge and trying to work on civil rights — he got it right.
What about modern U.S. history intrigues you?
As an undergraduate at the University of Queensland, I was taught by a young American professor and I became fascinated by America’s role in the world. It was a time when that role was highly contested — the early ‘70s. So, I got caught up with the study of the origins of the Cold War. I pursued that off and on over the course of my scholarly work and I also published a few books in that area.
Are there any other books that you have written that people are not aware of?
Yes, I published three major history books, but I’ve also published a couple of books of a different sort. For example, I have a little book of my homilies and talks called “Keeping the Faith, Making a Difference.” Furthermore, I’m very pleased to share that my new book, “American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh,” was just released last Tuesday, March 12. This book is what I have worked on over the last few years. It is a biography of Notre Dame’s former president, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C, that tries to tell two stories about him. In part one, I examine his leadership of Notre Dame and in part two, his external involvements, his work for various presidential administrations and his service within the church working with various popes. I’m hoping, of course, that it will be of interest to Notre Dame students who want to learn more about how the University has come to be as it is because Father Ted was such an influential leader.