Fromkin, David 1932–
Fromkin, David 1932–
(David Henry Fromkin)
PERSONAL: Born August 27, 1932, in Milwaukee, WI; son of Morris (an attorney) and Selma Fromkin. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1950, J.D., 1953; Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London, England, postgraduate diploma in law, 1958. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Historian, educator, lawyer, and writer. Admitted to the Bar of Illinois, 1953, New York, 1959, and U.S. Supreme Court, 1963; associated with Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett (law firm), New York, NY, 1958–60; attorney, New York, 1960–; Boston University, Boston, MA, professor of international relations, history and law, 1994–, chairman of the Department of International Relations and director of the Center for International Relations, 1994–97, Frederick S. Pardee Center, director, 2000–, University Professor; Enhance Reinsurance Company/Asset Guarantee Company, director and member of investment committees, 1986–95; Enhance Financial Services, Inc., director of operating subsidies, 1995; Also consultant to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, 1965; coordinator for foreign policy for presidential primary campaign of Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, 1972; trustee of the Strelsin Foundation, Inc., Family Foundation. Military service: U.S. Army, 1954–57; became first lieutenant.
MEMBER: International Institute for Strategic Studies, American Society of International Law, American Bar Association, Illinois Bar Association, Council on Foreign Relations, Century Association, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer Prize and National Book Circle Award nominations, both for A Peace to End All Peace.
The Question of Government: An Inquiry Into the Breakdown of Modern Political Systems, Scribner (New York, NY), 1975.
The Independence of Nations, Praeger (New York, NY), 1981.
A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914–1922, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1989, published as A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, Avon (New York, NY), 1990.
In the Time of the Americans: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur—The Generation That Changed America's Role in the World, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-First Century, Knopf (New York, NY), 1999.
Kosovo Crossing: American Ideals Meet Reality on the Balkan Battlefields, Free Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to Cradle & Crucible: History and Faith in the Middle East, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2002; contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Forbes, New York Times, World Policy Journal, New Criterion, and Foreign Affairs; member of editorial boards of World Policy Journal and Middle East Journal.
ADAPTATIONS: Europe's Last Summer was adapted as an audiobook, Blackstone Audiobooks, 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: David Fromkin is a former American lawyer who has written books on government, politics, and history. He has been professor of international relations, history and law at Boston University since 1994. "Fromkin writes history on a grand scale," wrote Missy Daniel in a Publishers Weekly interview with Fromkin. "His absorbing narratives, dense with detail but wonderfully fluid, sweep the reader across the decades and continents."
In his first book, The Question of Government: An Inquiry Into the Breakdown of Modern Political Systems, Fromkin analyzes the institution and nature of U.S. government, arguing that the political structures have not adapted to societal changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. He urges the development of "a truly modern government," capable of the coordination and planning necessary for social cohesion otherwise unachieved in a highly industrialized state. The Question of Government is "a provocative, original study," Carey McWilliams noted in Nation, and one "that deserves more attention than it is likely to receive."
Fromkin's In the Time of the Americans: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur—The Generation That Changed America's Role in the World profiles the twentieth-century American leaders who helped define the role of the United States in the global political arena—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George C. Marshall, and Douglas MacArthur. New Leader contributor Henry F. Graff found that the work "is indeed a detailed presentation, yet scholars will find little new here." Graff went on, though, to claim that "the record of America's full-scale entry into international affairs has never been more engagingly offered … David Fromkin has aimed high and he deserves credit for his boldness." Mary Carroll in Booklist argued: "It is a well-written and entertaining study, but profoundly conventional history."
Fromkin's The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-First Century is a brief overview of world history from the beginning of civilization to the present. Christopher Carduff in New Criterion summarized: "Here, in a brisk but never breathless telling, is the story of man—how he came to be, how he made the world, and how he has remade it to suit his changing self, over and over again. It's the story of who we are, where we have been, and in its concluding, speculative chapters, where we may be going." Many critics noted the difficulty in writing a brief volume covering such a span of time, but were nonetheless largely positive. "It is rather well done, even if you feel like a schoolchild using a crib," wrote an Economist contributor. "Fromkin is good at getting the reader to turn the pages by offering the tastier morsels of history." Harry Frumerman, writing in Library Journal, found the attempt to be "all-encompassing" to lead to "odd juxtapositions" of topics. "The total effect of his approach," wrote Frumerman, "is of a kaleidoscope rather than a sharp beam of light that brings things into focus." A Publishers Weekly contributor also noted the tendency to be "somewhat superficial" in covering major topics in history, but nonetheless concluded: "Fromkin is a skillful raconteur with a keen eye for the telling anecdote and a conquistador's power to cover vast swaths of territory in a short amount of time."
In Kosovo Crossing: American Ideals Meet Reality on the Balkan Battlefields, Fromkin traces the history of U.S. foreign policy following World War I within the context of the Kosovo conflict of the 1990s. He discusses the work of Rebecca West, who wrote a groundbreaking work on Yugoslavia in 1941 and recounts historical U.S. foreign policy statements and guidelines that have impacted the Kosovo intervention, including President Woodrow Wilson's "14 Points," which addressed the right to self defense and the integrity of nations' borders. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "As a brief outline of the thinking that drew NATO and the U.S. into Kosovo, Fromkin's primer is instructive." Another reviewer writing in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, called Kosovo Crossing "a sober and sobering book."
Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? examines the causes of World War I and traces its origins not only to the ambitions of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires but also to specific individuals, including Germany's army chief and a group of officials in Berlin and Vienna. Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, noted that the author's "fluidity of expression guarantees a large audience for this book." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the author's "account of the war's origins, though surely arguable at many points, fills in many gaps." Another reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly referred to Europe's Last Summer as a "terrific account," adding: "Fromkin allies a direct, compulsively readable style with a daunting command of sources old and new." Eugenia C. Kiesling, writing in Parameters, commented that the author "turns the perennial question of responsibility for the Great War into a whodunit." Jim Doyle, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "essential for all World War I collections."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fromkin, David, The Question of Government: An Inquiry Into the Breakdown of Modern Political Systems, Scribner (New York, NY), 1975.
Booklist, May 15, 1995, Mary Carroll, review of In the Time of the Americans: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur—The Generation That Changed America's Role in the World, p. 1615; January 1, 1999, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Way of the World: From the Birth of Civilization to Eve of the 21st Century, p. 823; August, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of Kosovo Crossing: American Ideals Meet Reality on the Balkan Battlefields, p. 1981; February 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?, p. 1023.
Contemporary Review, February, 2005, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 126.
Economist, December 12, 1998, review of The Way of the World, p. 6.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, January, 2000, review of Kosovo Crossing, p. 62.
Forbes, June 24, 1991, Steve Forbes, review of A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914–1922, p. 24.
Foreign Affairs, May-June, 1995, Paul Johnson, review of In the Time of the Americans, p. 159; May, 1999, G. John Ikenberry, review of The Way of the World, p. 132.
Insight on the News, June 19, 1995, Charles M. Lichtenstein, review of In the Time of the Americans, p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 68.
Kliatt, May, 2005, Susan Offner, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 61.
Library Journal, October 15, 1998, Harry Frumerman, review of The Way of the World, p. 81; February 15, 2004, Jim Doyle, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 140.
Nation, August 30, 1975, Carey McWilliams, review of The Question of Government: An Inquiry Into the Breakdown of Modern Political Systems.
New Criterion, April, 1999, Christopher Carduff, review of The Way of the World, p. 74.
New Leader, September 11, 1995, Henry F. Graff, review of In the Time of the Americans, p. 20.
O: The Oprah Magazine, April, 2003, Madeleine K. Albright, review of A Peace to End All Peace, p. 158.
Parameters, summer, 2005, Eugenia C. Kiesling, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 148.
Publishers Weekly, March 20, 1995, review of In the Time of the Americans, p. 48; May 15, 1995, Missy Daniel, "David Fromkin: History on a Grand Scale," interview with author, p. 51; December 21, 1998, review of The Way of the World, p. 41; July 26, 1999, review of Kosovo Crossing, p. 74; February 9, 2004, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 73.
Wilson Quarterly, spring, 2004, Martin Walker, review of Europe's Last Summer, p. 120.
Boston University Department of International Relations Web site, http://www.bu.edu/ir/ (October 18, 2006), faculty profile of author.
Critique Magazine Web site, http://www.critiquemagazine.com/ (October 18, 2006), Elizabeth Routen, review of Kosovo Crossing.