Offner, Arnold A. 1937-
OFFNER, Arnold A. 1937-
PERSONAL: Born September 6, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Samuel (a salesman) and Helen (Wolowitz) Offner; married Ellen Siegel (a freelance editor), April 22, 1962; children: two. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1959; Indiana University, M.A., 1960, Ph.D., 1964. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: History of U.S. foreign policy, twentieth-century international relations, and American political history.
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, instructor, 1963-65, assistant professor of history, 1965-68; Boston University, Boston, MA, associate professor, 1968-73, professor of history, 1973-1991; Lafayette College, professor of history, history department head, 1991—.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
AWARDS, HONORS: George P. Hammond Essay Award, Phi Alpha Theta and Historian (journal), 1961, for essay on William E. Dodd; American Council of Learned Societies grants-in-aid, 1967, 1969; Phi Alpha Theta National Book Award, 1969, for American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany,1933-38; National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend, 1969; American Philosophical Society research grant, 1977.
(Contributor) W. B. Hamilton and others, A Decade of the Commonwealth, 1955-64, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1966.
(Editor and compiler) America and the Origins of World War II, 1933-1941, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1971.
The Origins of the Second World War: American Foreign Policy and World Politics, 1917-1941, Praeger (New York, NY), 1975.
(Editor, with Theodore A. Wilson) Victory in Europe, 1945: From World War to Cold War, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2000.
"Another Such Victory": President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2002.
Contributor of essays to numerous anthologies such as Franklin D. Roosevelt: His Life and Times, The Fascist Challenge and the Policy of Appeasement, and America and the Germans: An Assessment of a 300 Year History. Contributor of articles to many journals, including Boston University Journal, Boston University Literary Currents, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Diplomatic History, and Journal of American History.
SIDELIGHTS: History professor and scholar Arnold Offner has lectured at colleges, universities, symposiums, and conferences around the nation and in other countries. He was a featured commentator for WBZ-T, Boston's "For Kids Only" on the Vietnam War in 1974, and on a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary film "The Road to War, 1917-1941" in 1987. Offner combines his two professions—teaching and writing—in a unique manner: In the preface of "Another Such Victory": President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953, Offner explains how when he compliments two former students for their "great help in searching out and assessing materials and serving as highly interactive sounding boards for my ideas." In a press release for a lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and aired on C-Span2's "Book TV," David J. Reynolds quotes Offner as saying, "My research has an enormous impact in the classroom. I am unequivocal in my belief that a good research program feeds dramatically into teaching. They're not conflicting, but complementary, interactive, and rewarding in both directions."
"Another Such Victory" is a revisionist account of Harry Truman's presidential policies, particularly regarding relations with the Soviet Union and China. Reynolds commented that Offner's book "sharply challenges the prevailing view of historians who have uncritically praised Truman for repulsing the Soviet Union." Reynolds noted the book is based on extensive research, complemented by information that has become available since the end of the Cold War. "The book demonstrates," said Reynolds, "how Truman's simplistic analogies, exaggerated beliefs in U.S. supremacy and limited grasp of world affairs exacerbated conflicts with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China." Reynolds quoted Offner as commenting: "It's the duty of the historian to look behind the Fourth of July speeches and rhetoric. That doesn't negate the constructive things that have been accomplished, but it looks at the prices paid. The question is whether there were better ways of accomplishing the same objectives that would have resulted in less cost and conflict."
While a critic for Publishers Weekly called the book a "cramped assessment of foreign policy during Truman's watch," Karl Helicher, reviewing the book for Library Journal, wrote, "This excellent revisionist account . . . is enthusiastically recommended for academic diplomatic history collections."
As coeditors of Victory in Europe, 1945: From World WartoColdWar, Offner and Theodore Wilson compiled an impressive collection of essays from a conference held in 1995 at the University of Kansas. There, a distinguished gathering of experts (including the editors) on international affairs, historians, and eye witnesses reassessed questions surrounding the end of World War II—a war that left Europe devastated, with 35 million dead, and the remaining population facing extreme economic difficulties. Victory in Europe offers a case study in war termination that examines choices made and opportunities lost as it considers the transition from coalition to cooperation to mutual suspicion in the face of new political realities.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
History: Review of New Books, spring, 2001, review of Victory in Europe, 1945: From World War to Cold War, p. 117.
Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Karl Helicher, review of "Another Such Victory": President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953, p. 118.
Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of "Another Such Victory," p. 86.
Lafayette College Web site,http://www.lafayette.edu/ (July 1, 2002), David J. Reynolds, "Lafayette History Professor Arnold Offner Authors Major New Book Reassessing Foreign Policy of President Harry Truman."*