caucus training in 1992
(attending a caucus training session at Coe in 1992;
from the Cedar Rapids Gazette archives)

      I grew up in Wheaton, Illinois. My sister, Susan Dudek, and my brother, Mark Nesmith, still live in that area.  I attended Wheaton Central High School and graduated in 1977.

     I graduated from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois in 1981.  My main pursuit there was radio station WONC, where I did shows with names like "The Bruce Nesmith Extravaganza" and "Brucemania". You may go and check their web site (and listen to WONC on RealAudio!) but only if you promise to attend Coe instead!

    I worked briefly as a news announcer at WBOX in Bogalusa, Louisiana before turning to the relative sanity (?!) of professional academia.

    I received my Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1987, under the direction of the redoubtable and extremely helpful Professor Lester G. Seligman. My first full-time job was at Western Illinois University. I have been at Coe since 1989.

    My current research, collaborating with Paul J. Quirk of the University of British Columbia, evaluates the performance of presidents and Congress in a number of public policy cases. My one and only published book is The New Republican Coalition: The Reagan Campaigns and White Evangelicals, published by Peter Lang in 1994.  Quirk and I co-authored a chapter in The Elections of 2008, published by CQ Press, and have a chapter on presidential advising in Governing at Home, published by Kansas University Press in 2011.

     I am a member of the American Political Science Association, though I rarely am able to attend the annual meetings. On the other hand, I am not a member of the Midwest Political Science Association, but attend their meeting in Chicago almost every spring.

    I volunteer at Garfield School in Cedar Rapids. 

    My guest appearance on Iowa Public Radio's Politics Wednesday 7/28/2010 and 8/11/10 and 1/5/11. I am a frequent commentator on WMT Radio (600am) and local television, and have been quoted in newspapers regarding:

Books I read in 2014:
    My Three Years with Eisenhower by Harry C. Butcher. Diaries intended for publication risk self-consciousness and spin, but Butcher's superb blow-by-blow of his three years as Eisenhower's Naval Aide during World War II has offsetting virtues. It takes the reader inside the laborious planning phase for the invasion of Normandy and the nearly yearlong endgame of the war in Europe, reminding us how many uncertainties surrounded the effort. It details the need to account not only for military necessities but national and personal rivalries. There is tension with the news media but nothing like what would follow in Vietnam. All this is told in Butcher's magnificent writing voice: he comes across as good-humored, friendly, modest and imperturbable. He must have been a valuable guy to have around.
    Working with Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History: A Diary, 1928-1930; Selling Black History for Carter G. Woodston: A Diary, 1930-1933 by Lorenzo J. Greene.
These books are well-written diaries from the early career of Greene, who became professor of history at Lincoln University in Missouri. It's a vivid account of the beginning of an academic career (complete with persnickety advisor), the nature of historical research, and the conditions of black life in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In addition, Greene was an avid New York Yankees fan (surprisingly taking no interest in the Negro Leagues) and apparently something of a rake.
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Jolly and highly readable romp through economics, formerly known as the dismal science. Less concerned with micro- or microeconomics than with seeing how powerful economic paradigms like incentives, and careful use of data, can illuminate the everyday world.
    The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armisted Maupin. 9th--9th?? yes, 9th--in Maupin's series of novels about San Francisco is just as sweet and life-affirming as its predecessors, even though Anna is in her 90s and suffering the effects of a stroke, and Michael "Mouse" is in his 60s and grumpy. Shit happens, as shit will, but it's endurable in the community of good friends. I had no problem following this though I haven't read the whole series, but it probably helps for the reader to have some prior familiarity with the characters. The sexual discussions are frank enough to make me uncomfortable, but that may be the point.
    Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit by Parker J. Palmer. A truly exceptional work. Palmer manages in a relatively small book both to present a new vocabulary for discussing and participating in politics while keeping the language accessible and the tone passionate. Realistic about contemporary American politics, but also hopeful and encouraging about the future.

Books I read in 2011-2013
Books I read in 2010
Books I read in 2009

    Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Home!

last update 3/17/14