UCL Institute of the Americas


Dr Aaron Hiltner

Dr Aaron Hiltner


Lecturer (Teaching) in United States History

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor
programme director: ma united states studies
outreach/widening participation tutor


Aaron is a historian of the United States, focusing on empire, ecology, the military, foreign relations, and masculinity. He completed his PhD in History at Boston University in 2018. His dissertation received honourable mention from the SMH Coffman Prize. He previously taught at Boston University, Fitchburg State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Research Summary

Aaron’s research spans the U.S. in the world since 1865, examining the connections between empire and ecological control, as well as civil-military conflict and masculinity.

His first book Taking Leave, Taking Liberties: American Troops on the World War II Home Front (The University of Chicago Press, 2020) centres on civil-military conflict in the U.S. mainland during World War II, when millions of American and Allied troops poured in into stateside liberty ports like New York and Los Angeles. Emboldened by the privilege of their uniforms and near immunity from civilian laws and authorities, soldiers and sailors caroused, fought with locals, and regularly assaulted women. The home front became a central site for civil-military conflict, setting the stage for a postwar extension of military power at home and abroad.

Aaron’s second book-length project examines American and British cowboys and ranchers who forged important economic, environmental, and cultural connections in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S. between 1865 and the 1960s. These cowhands sought to influence the massive beef export market as part of a larger imperial effort to control the animals and ecology of subject nations and colonies like Argentina, Brazil, and Southern Rhodesia.

Teaching Summary


AMER0050: The Making of Modern America: The United States since 1920 (module convenor)

Post Graduate Taught:

AMER0057: Researching the Americas

AMER0087: Non-State Actors in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1880-1945



Hiltner, Aaron. (2020). Taking Leave, Taking Liberties: American Troops on the World War II Home Front. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


Hiltner, Aaron. (2021). “Discipline and Military Justice,” Essay for The American Soldier in World War II project.