Barbara W. Tuchman
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|Barbara W. Tuchman|
January 30, 1912
New York City
|Died||February 6, 1989 (aged 77)|
|Occupation||Writer, journalist, historian|
|Subject||Middle Ages, Renaissance, American Revolution, 1900, World War I|
|Spouse||Lester R. Tuchman|
(b. 1904, d. 1997)
|Relatives||Maurice Wertheim (father)|
Henry Morgenthau Sr.
Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Robert M. Morgenthau (cousin)
Jessica Mathews (daughter)
Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (//; January 30, 1912 – February 6, 1989) was an American historian and author. She won the Pulitzer Prizetwice, for The Guns of August (later August 1914), a best-selling history of the prelude to and the first month of World War I, and Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45, a biography of General Joseph Stilwell.
Tuchman focused on writing popular history.
Life and career
Tuchman was the daughter of the banker Maurice Wertheim. She was a first cousin of New York district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, a niece of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and granddaughter of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., Woodrow Wilson's Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.
In a 1963 lecture, Tuchman recalled,
She attended the Walden School on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1933.
From 1934 to 1935, she worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Pacific Relations in New York and Tokyo, and then began a career as a journalist before turning to writing books. When John Loomis Sherman left as head of a Communist spy ring in Tokyo (second to that of Richard Sorge), Tuchman took over Sherman's cover (less espionage activities) as head of Tokyo offices for the American Feature Writers Syndicate (established in New York City by Sherman, literary agent Maxim Lieber, and fellow Soviet Underground spy Whittaker Chambers).
As a journalist, she was the editorial assistant for The Nation, a newspaper her father had bought to save it from bankruptcy. In 1937, in the course of the Spanish Civil War, she went to Valenciaand Madrid in 1937 to work as war correspondent for The Nation. Tuchman was a trustee of Radcliffe College and a lecturer at Harvard University, the University of California, and the Naval War College. A tower of Currier House, a residential division of Harvard College was named in her honor.
In 1939, she married Lester R. Tuchman, an internist, medical researcher and professor of clinical medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. They had three daughters, including Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Tuchman's Law has been defined as a psychological principle of "perceptual readiness" or "subjective probability".
Awards and honors
Tuchman twice won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, first for The Guns of August in 1963, and again for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45 in 1972. In 1978, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She won a U.S. National Book Award in History[a] for the first paperback edition of A Distant Mirror in 1980.
Also in 1980 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Tuchman for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Tuchman's lecture was entitled "Mankind's Better Moments".
- The Lost British Policy: Britain and Spain Since 1700 (1938)
- Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (1956)
- The Zimmermann Telegram (1958) – The Zimmermann Telegram in early 1917 was a key incident involving Germany and Mexico that helped provoke the U.S. into entering World War I.
- The Guns of August (1962) – details the military decisions and actions that occurred leading up to and during the first month of World War I. It is primarily what established her reputation. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy advised the EXCOMM to read this book. Reprinted several times in the 1980s as August 1914.
- The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890–1914 (1966) – Covers the hesitant rise of U.S. imperialism, anarchist assassinations, socialism, communism, and the devolution of the 19th century order in Europe and North America
- Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45 (1970) – Biography of Joseph Stilwell
- Notes from China (1972) (about Tuchman's own visit there)
- A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century (1978) – Examines the era of 1340–1400 through political, military, and social lenses, taking nobleman Enguerrand VII de Coucy as its central figure; themes include the folly of chivalry and the tragedy of war
- Practicing History (1981) – Selected essays, published between 1935 and 1981, on historical writing, political ambition, and the importance of reading history
- The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (1984) – A meditation on the historical recurrence of governments pursuing policies evidently contrary to their own interests. In addition to the two historical events referenced in the title, discusses the Popes of the late Renaissance inciting the Protestant rebellion and Great Britain provoking the Americans to revolt
- The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution (1988) – The title refers to the St. Eustatius "flag incident" of 16 November 1776
- America's Security in the 1980s (1982) – Photographed with Laurence Martin for this Christopher Bertram book.
- The Book: A lecture sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Authors’ League of America, presented at the Library of Congress October 17, 1979 (1980)