UNGER, IRWIN (1927– ), U.S. historian. Born in New York, Unger received both his M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1958) in American history from Columbia University. He taught at the universities of Columbia and California and was appointed professor of history at New York University, where he taught U.S. economic and 19th-century history. His main areas of interest were radicalism and reform; the 1960s; the Gilded Age; and economic history.
Unger's book The Greenback Era: A Political and Social History of American Finance, 1865–1879 (1964) won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Meticulously researched, it recognized the variety of economic interests on either side of the paper money issue and emphasized the impact of intellectual, religious, and political leaders on that controversy. In a different vein, Unger perceptively analyzed "New Left" historians in "The 'New Left' and American History…" in The American Historical Review (72, no. 4 (July 1967), 1237–63).
Other books by Unger include The Movement (1974); These United States (1978; 20022); Turning Point, 1968 (with his wife, Debi, 1988); 20th-Century America (with D. Unger, 1990); Postwar America (with D. Unger, 1991); America in the 1960s (with D. Unger, 1993); Instant American History (1994); The Best of Intentions (1996); lbj: A Life (with D. Unger, 2000); Recent America: The United States since 1945 (2001); and The Guggenheims: A Family History (with D. Unger, 2005). The Ungers also compiled The Times Were a Changin' (1998), an anthology of the 1960s.
[Ari Hoogenboom /
Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]