Tannenbaum, Frank (1893–1969)

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Tannenbaum, Frank (1893–1969)

Frank Tannenbaum (b. 4 March 1893; d. 1 June 1969), pioneering Latin Americanist in the United States. The son of Austrian immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1904, Tannenbaum did graduate work at the Brookings Institution, receiving his doctorate there in 1927. Subsequently, hewas an interna-tionally recognized historian at Columbia University from 1935 until his death. A versatile scholar in a time of narrow specialization, he wrote on topics ranging from prison reform to international relations to the history of slavery, arguing that Latin American slavery was more benign than slavery in the United States. His chosen area of concentration, however, was the Mexican Revolution and its consequences. His ground-breaking study of land reform, The Mexican Agrarian Revolution (1929), established the focus for his research: village Mexico and its struggle to adjust to the modern world.

Tannenbaum was highly skeptical of large organizations—whether governmental or private sector—and wrote provocative critiques of various theories and plans for large-scale industrialization in Latin America. Often in disagreement with other scholars, he was one of the few leftists to criticize Fidel Castro's government in Cuba in the early 1960s.

See alsoAgrarian Reform; Manumission.


For Tannenbaum's early career see Helen Delpar, "Frank Tannenbaum: The Making of a Latin Americanist, 1914–1933," in The Americas 45 (1988): 153-171. Two of Tannenbaum's many publications are Peace by Revolution: An Interpretation of Mexico (1933), and Ten Keys to Latin America (1962), which contains his critique of Castro's policies on pp. 201-237.

Additional Bibliography

Hale, Charles Adams. "Frank Tannenbaum and the Mexican Revolution." Hispanic American Historical Review, 75:2 (May 1995): 215-246.

Knight, Alan S. "Frank Tannenbaum y la revolución mexicana." Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México, 19 (1999): 33-52.

                                       John A. Britton