One of the most respected historians of the twentieth century and the only woman to win a Pulitzer Prize twice, Barbara Tuchman has written first-rate chronicles accessible to readers from every walk of life. The core of her theory of history is that true understanding comes from observing the patterns that are created through an aggregation of details and events. Tuchman has covered topics from the Trojan War to the Middle Ages, the leaders of World War I, and the United States’ problematic involvement in Vietnam. All of her books are known for their narrative power and for her portrayals of the players on the world stage as believable individuals.
Born in 1912, Barbara Tuchman attended Radcliffe College and, after graduation, took her first job as a research assistant at the Institute of Pacific Relations in New York and Tokyo. She began writing articles for several periodicals and went on to work as a staff editorial assistant at the Nation and a correspondent for London’s New Statesman. From 1934 to 1945, Tuchman worked for the Far East News Desk and Office of War Information. Here, she got firsthand experience of researching and writing about history as it happened.
Tuchman put this invaluable wartime experience to good use with her immense study of the pivotal events prior to World War I, The Guns of August, published in 1962. This thoughtful and thorough history of the thirty days leading up to the first global war spanned all of Europe, detailing the actions of key players in London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Paris. Her book was met with thundering critical praise and acceptance from popular readers and historians the world over—she received her first Pulitzer Prize for this powerful exposé.
Barbara Tuchman’s other books include A Distant Mirror, which explores everyday life in fourteenth-century France, and The March of Folly, an analysis of four conflicts in world history that were mismanaged by governments, from the Trojan War to Britain’s loss of her colonies to Vietnam. Her second Pulitzer Prize was for a biography of US General Joseph Stilwell: a probing look at the relations between China and the United States through the personal wartime experiences of Stilwell.
To be a bestseller is not necessarily a measure of quality, but it is a measure of communication.