Barbara W. Tuchman
|Barbara W. Tuchman|
January 30, 1912
New York City
|Died||February 6, 1989
|Occupation||Writer, journalist, historian|
|Subjects||Middle Ages, Renaissance, American Revolution, 1900, World War I|
|Spouse(s)||Dr Lester R. Tuchman
(b. 1904, d. 1997)
|Relative(s)||Maurice Wertheim (father)
Henry Morgenthau Sr.
Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Robert M. Morgenthau (cousin)
Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (//; January 30, 1912 – February 6, 1989) was an American historian and author. She became widely known first for The Guns of August (later August 1914), a best-selling history of the prelude to and the first month of World War I, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1963.
Tuchman focused on writing popular history.
Life and career 
Tuchman was the daughter of the banker Maurice Wertheim. She was a first cousin of New York district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, a niece of Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and granddaughter of Henry Morgenthau Sr., Woodrow Wilson's Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College in 1933.
She married Lester R. Tuchman, an internist, medical researcher and professor of clinical medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in 1939; they had three daughters (one of whom is Jessica Mathews).
From 1934 to 1935 she worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Pacific Relations in New York and Tokyo, and then began a career as a journalist before turning to books. As a journalist she was the editorial assistant for The Nation and an American correspondent for the New Statesman in London, the Far East News Desk, and the Office of War Information (1944–45).
Tuchman was a trustee of Radcliffe College and a lecturer at Harvard University, University of California, and the U.S. Naval War College. A tower of Currier House, a residential division of Harvard College was named in her honor.
Tuchman's Law 
Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening--on a lucky day--without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman's Law, as follows: "The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold" (or any figure the reader would care to supply).
Tuchman's law has been defined as a psychological principle of 'perceptual readiness' or 'subjective probability'.
Awards and honors 
Tuchman twice won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, first for The Guns of August in 1963, and again for Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 in 1972. She won a U.S. National Book Award in History[a] for the first paperback edition of A Distant Mirror in 1980.
Also in 1980 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Tuchman for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Tuchman's lecture was entitled "Mankind's Better Moments."
In 1985, Saturday Review magazine named her one of the country's “Most Overrated People in American Arts and Letters,” commenting that "over the years [she has made] an unhappy transition from writing history as a moral lesson to writing moral lessons as history.”
- The Lost British Policy: Britain and Spain Since 1700 (1938)
- Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (1956)
- The Zimmermann Telegram (1958)—The Zimmermann Telegram in early 1917 was a key incident involving Germany and Mexico that helped provoke the U.S. into entering World War I.
- The Guns of August (1962) details the military decisions and actions that occurred leading up to and during the first month of World War I. It is primarily what established her reputation. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy advised the EXCOMM to read this book. Reprinted several times in the 1980s as August 1914.
- The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890–1914 (1966)—Covers the hesitant rise of U.S. imperialism, anarchist assassinations, socialism, communism, and the devolution of the 19th century order in Europe and North America.
- Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 (1970)—A biography of Joseph Stilwell.
- Notes from China (1972) (about Tuchman’s own visit there)
- A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century (1978)—Examines the era of 1340–1400 through political, military, and social lenses, taking nobleman Enguerrand VII de Coucy as its central figure. Themes include the folly of chivalry and the tragedy of war.
- Practicing History (1981)—Selected essays, published between 1935 and 1981, on historical writing, political ambition, and the importance of reading history.
- The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam (1984)—A meditation on the historical recurrence of governments pursuing policies evidently contrary to their own interests. In addition to the two historical events referenced in the title, discusses the Catholic Church of the late Renaissance inciting the Protestant rebellion and Great Britain provoking the Americans to revolt.
- The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution (1988). (The title refers to the St. Eustatius "flag incident" of 16 November 1776.)
Other works 
- America's Security in the 1980s (1982)—Photographed with Laurence Martin for this Christopher Bertram book.
- The Book: A lecture sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Authors’ League of America, presented at the Library of Congress October 17, 1979 (1980)
- Ernest Becker. "The Pulitzer Prizes | General Nonfiction". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- Published: December 19, 1997 (1997-12-19). "Lester Tuchman, Internist and Professor, 93". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- Tuchman, Barbara A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century Alfred A. Knopf New York 1978, p. xviii ISBN 0-394-40026-7
- Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences: Violence and the violent individual: proceedings of the twelfth annual symposium, Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences, Houston, Texas, November 1-3, 1979. Spectrum Publications, p. 412
- "1980 National Book Awards Winners and Finalists, The National Book Foundation". Nationalbook.org. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- "Jefferson Lecture | National Endowment for the Humanities". Neh.gov. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- ""The 42 Most Underrated/Overrated People in American Arts and Letters", The Saturday Review, April 1985, pp. 31-35". Unz.org. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- listing, Alibris, retrieved 2012-11-27
- listing, Libraries Hawai’i, retrieved 2012-11-27
- TV interview with Bill Moyers Sept. 30, 1988
- Biography on Kirjasto
- Author's entry on The MacDowell Colony
- Biography on The Jewish Virtual Library
- Bibliographical list on GoogleBooks
- Entry on Distinguished Women
- A film clip "The Open Mind - "A Distant Mirror" The 14th Century and Today (1979)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]