Leffler, Melvyn Paul 1945- (Melvyn Leffler, Melvyn P. Leffler)

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Leffler, Melvyn Paul 1945- (Melvyn Leffler, Melvyn P. Leffler)


Born May 31, 1945, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Louis (in business) and Mollie Leffler; married Phyllis Koran (a historian), September 1, 1968; children: Sarah Ann. Education: Cornell University, B.S., 1966; Ohio State University, Ph.D., 1972.


Home—Charlottesville, VA. Office—Department of History, Vanderbilt University, Box 6130-B, Nashville, TN 37235. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, historian, and educator. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, assistant professor, 1972-77, associate professor of history, 1977-2002; Oxford University, Harmsworth Professor, 2002-03; University of Virginia, Edward R. Stettinius Professor of American History; served as chair of the department of history and dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society for the History of American Foreign Relations, American Committee on the History of the Second World War.


American Council of Learned Societies grant, 1973; Gilbert Chinard Prize from Society for French Historical Studies and Institut Français de Washington, 1975, for The Struggle for Stability: American toward France, 1921-33; Woodrow Wilson International Center, fellow, 1979-80; Council on Foreign Relations, fellow, 1980-81; Bancroft Prize for distinguished works in American history and diplomacy, Columbia University, 1992, for A Preponderance of Power; Hoover Prize for best book on twentieth-century U.S. history, 1993; Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program, senior fellow, 2004-06; Ferrell Prize for best book on U.S. foreign relations; Norwegian Nobel Institute, senior fellow; Council on Foreign Relations, senior fellow.


The Elusive Quest: America's Pursuit of European Stability and French Security, 1919-33, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1979.

A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1991.

(Editor, with David S. Painter) Origins of the Cold War: An International History, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994, 2nd edition, 2005.

The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1994.

The Struggle for Germany and the Origins of the Cold War, German Historical Institute (Washington, DC), 1996.

For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, Hill and Wang (New York, NY), 2007.

(With Jeffrey W. Legro) To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to history journals.


Melvyn Paul Leffler is a writer, historian, public policy scholar, and international affairs expert. He serves as the Edward R. Stettinius Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He studies U.S. national security strategy as it existed before the Cold War and as it evolved in the following years, and he teaches and conducts research in areas such as diplomatic history, international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, and U.S. history.

In For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, Leffler combines existing scholarship with recently released Soviet documents to create a history of the Cold War that focuses on "critical turning points when crises, leadership changes, and shifting diplomatic landscapes provided opportunities for reducing hostilities," commented G. John Ikenberry in Foreign Affairs. He offers detailed portraits of important figures in Cold War politics in the United States and Russia, including Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, and Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Leffler looks at the origins of the Cold War and stresses Germany's often overlooked or downplayed role in the Cold War's beginnings. He assesses the era's leaders in terms of the politics of the day and in their desire to be a part of an important world legacy. He points out how their long-held and often moribund ideas sustained the Cold War until the historic moment when Reagan and Gorbachev were able to go beyond existing stifling ideology and make genuine political progress. Ikenberry called For the Soul of Mankind a "masterful account of the Cold War by a distinguished historian in full stride."



Foreign Affairs, November-December, 2007, G. John Ikenberry, review of For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.


United States Institute of Peace Web site,http://www.usip.org/ (April 5, 2008), biography of Melvyn Paul Leffler.

University of Virginia Web site,http://www.virginia.edu/ (April 5, 2008), biography of Melvyn Paul Leffler.