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Bernard Wasserstein (born January 22, 1948) is a professor of history. Wasserstein was born in London, and educated at the High School of Glasgow and at Wyggeston Boys' Grammar School, Leicester. He gained a BA in Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford University in 1969.
Wasserstein's main area of interest is Jewish history. His current areas of research involves three projects: first, a study of European Jewish intellectuals in the period after 1945; secondly, a book on the Jews in Europe on the eve of the Second World War; and thirdly, a micro-historical study of the relations of Jews with their neighbours in a small Polish town, Krakowiec, over the period 1772 to 1946.
Wasserstein currently teaches at the University of Chicago, but has taught previously at the University of Glasgow, Smith College, Brandeis University and Oxford University. Wasserstein's first teacher was Anna Freud.
Awards and honours
- 1978 The British in Palestine: The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict 1917-1929, analysing the first decade of the Palestine Mandate.
- 1979 Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945, examining the British record in relation to the Jewish genocide in Europe, focussing on British receptivity to Jewish immigration to the UK, to the Empire, and to Palestine, on British policy regarding relief supplies sent through the economic blockade to Nazi Europe, and on official reaction to proposals for the bombing of Auschwitz and for aid to Jewish resistance in occupied Europe.
- 1985 (edited with Frances Malino) The Jews in Modern France
- 1988 The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln (Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-04076-8), a 327-page biography of Trebitsch Lincoln. Wasserstein describes this as 'an experiment in biography'.
- 1992 Herbert Samuel: A Political Life, a political biography of the First High Commissioner under the British Mandate in Palestine and the successor to Lloyd George as leader of the British Liberal Party.
- 1996 Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945 proposed a radical reassessment of post-Hitler European Jewry; the picture of demographic decline, social disintegration, and cultural dissolution provoked considerable debate.
- In 1997, Bernard and his brother David wrote an article (available here ) questioning the authenticity of City of Light, a book that purported to be an account translated by David Selbourne of the voyage by Italian Jacob D'Ancona to 13th Century China, years before Marco Polo.
- 1999 Secret War in Shanghai is an account of the rivalries of the great powers in North China during World War II, and was partly based, like the biography of Trebitsch Lincoln, on the archive of the British-controlled Shanghai Municipal Police Special Branch. This evoked some critical reactions on account of its portrait of widespread collaborationism among the foreign communities (including the British and the Americans) in Shanghai.
- 2001 Divided Jerusalem: Struggle for the Holy City returned to Wasserstein's earlier interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The book surveys the diplomatic history of the Jerusalem question over the past two hundred years, with a close focus on the period since 1967. The book emphasizes the historic roots of the current divisions in the city and the exploitation of religious devotion to the city by politicians of all three monotheistic faiths.
- 2003 Israelis and Palestinians: Why Do They Fight? Can They Stop? (Yale University Press) looks at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in five chapters: People, Society, Environment, Territory, and Dynamics of Political Change. It focuses in particular on demography, social relations (especially the labour market), and environmental pressures, showing how these have shaped and continue to shape the nature of Israeli-Palestinian relations.
- 2007 Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time (Oxford University Press) is a general history of the continent since 1914.
- 2012 On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War (Simon & Schuster)
- 2014 The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews (Harvard University Press).
- Referring to the Muslim attitude towards Jerusalem in the 10th-12th centuries: "as so often in the history of Jerusalem, heightened religious fervour may be explained in large measure by political necessity." (Divided Jerusalem, p11)
- "Bernard Wasserstein" .Contemporary Authors Online. October 18, 2007. Retrieved on December 20, 2010.
- Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize 2013
- University of Chicago Department of History page on Wasserstein
- University of Chicago News profile of Wasserstein