Alvin David Coox was a professor of military history at San Diego State University from 1964 to 1995. After earning his doctorate in history from Harvard in 1951, Coox went to Japan, where he lived for about 15 years. For six of those years, he served as an intelligence analyst for the U.S Air Force. Also while there, he began research on the book for which he is best known, Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939, published in 1985. Based on extensive research, including over 400 interviews from both Japan and Russia, the book relates the story of the critical 1939 battle of Nomonhan (also known as Khalkhin Gol) between Japan and the Soviet Union. Japan's defeat spelled the end of that country's turn to the North for expansion and led, ultimately, to war with the United States and Great Britain.
Professor Coox also initiated and administered an annual summer institute on Japanese society and culture for high school and college teachers, recruiting specialists in all fields to give lectures.
The Coox Collection consists of notes for his books, files on military and political relations in East Asia, biographical pieces on a range of Japanese and other leaders, tapes from __ interviews, and hundreds of recorded lectures from the Summer Institute.