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Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim


TUCHMAN, BARBARA WERTHEIM (1912–1989), U.S. author, journalist, and historian. Born in New York City, she was a daughter of Maurice *Wertheim and a granddaughter of Henry *Morgenthau, Sr. She engaged in journalistic and editorial work, including coverage of the Spanish Civil War and service as editor of the Far Eastern Desk of the U.S. Office of War Information (1943–45). One of her principal achievements was making scholarly history readable to the general public. Her best-known book, The Guns of August (1962), which won the Pulitzer Prize, is a dramatic portrayal of the diplomatic prelude to, and early days of, World War i.

Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (1956) expressed strong sympathy for the Zionist cause and an appreciation of Palestine's role in world history. Her other works include The Lost British Policy (1938); The Zimmerman Telegram (1958), on German intrigues in Mexico during World War i; and The Proud Tower (1966), a study of the years 1890–1914, which includes a chapter on the *Dreyfus Affair.

[Catherine Silverman]

In 1972 Tuchman was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for the second time for her book Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 19111945, and her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (1978) was an outstanding bestseller. These were followed by The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (1984) and The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution (1988).

In May 1978 she was awarded a gold medal for history by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and in February 1979 was elected its president, the first woman to hold this position. In April 1980 she delivered the Thomas Jefferson lecture, the highest award of the American government for intellectual achievement outside of science; her subject was "Mankind's Better Moments."


Current Biography Yearbook 1963 (1964), 426–8; J.M. Ethridge and B. Kopala (eds.), Contemporary Authors, 1–4 (1967), first revision, s.v.

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