Crane Brinton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Crane Brinton
DiedSeptember 7, 1968(1968-09-07) (aged 69–70)
Alma mater
Known forRevolution theory
Notable workThe Anatomy of Revolution (1965)
AwardsRhodes Scholarship
Crane Brinton signature.png

Clarence Crane Brinton (Winsted, Connecticut, 1898 – Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 7, 1968) was an American historian of France, as well as an historian of ideas. His most famous work, The Anatomy of Revolution (1938) likened the dynamics of revolutionary movements to the progress of fever.[1]

Born in Winsted, Connecticut, his family soon moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he grew up and attended the public schools there before entering Harvard University in 1915. His excellent academic performance enabled him to win a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, receiving a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1923. Brinton then began teaching at Harvard University that same year, becoming full professor in 1942 and remaining at Harvard until his death.[2] He was McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History from 1946 to 1968.

For many years he taught a popular course at Harvard known informally to his students as "Brunch with Brinton". Brinton was known for his witty, convivial, and urbane writing and commentary,[3] and was fluent in French. During World War II he was for a time Chief of Research and Analysis in London in the Office of Strategic Services.[4] He was also Fire Marshal for St. Paul's Cathedral in London, which withstood the Blitz with minor damages. After the war, he was commended by the United States Army for "Conspicuous Contribution to the Liberation of France" and was chairman of the Harvard Society of Fellows in the late 1940s.[5] Membership during that period included McGeorge Bundy and Ray Cline, who would go on to become quite influential in national security and intelligence.

In the early 1960s Brinton was the dissertation supervisor at Harvard of the young historian Will Johnston.[6] He also served as an advisor for historian Elizabeth Eisenstein, author of The Printing Press as an Agent of Change.

Brinton was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1939 and the American Philosophical Society in 1953.[7][8] In 1963 Brinton was elected president of the American Historical Association. He was also president of the Society for French Historical Studies.

On February 19, 1968 Brinton testified at the Fulbright Hearings on the Vietnam war as to the nature of the Vietnamese opposition, saying that Americans are sympathetic to a revolution but not a Communist one, and that if Ho Chi Minh had not been a Communist, "The whole story would have been different.".[9]

Brinton wrote a review of Carroll Quigley's book Tragedy and Hope[relevant?].[citation needed]

Among those his scholarship inspired were Samuel P. Huntington, who cited Brinton many times in his book Political Order in Changing Societies,[citation needed] and Robert Struble, Jr., in his Treatise on Twelve Lights.[10]



  • "Lord Acton's Philosophy of History." The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 1919, pp. 84–112. JSTOR 1507914.
  • "The History of Paper Money to the War." The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 6, No. 3, September 1934, pp. 308–318. JSTOR 1871279.
  • "Napoleon and Hitler." Foreign Affairs, Vol. 20, No. 2, January 1942, pp. 213–225. doi:10.2307/20029145.
  • "Comment on Gay." American Historical Review, Vol. 66, No. 3, April 1, 1961, pp. 677–681. doi:10.1086/ahr/66.3.677
  • "Many Mansions." American Historical Review, Vol. 69, No. 2, January 1964, pp. 309–326. doi:10.1086/ahr/69.2.309.[11]
    An address presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association at the Sheraton Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 29, 1963.[11]
  • "Ideas in History." The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 37, No. 4, December 1965, pp. 464–468. JSTOR 1876860.


Book reviews


  1. ^ Knutsen, Torbjørn L. & Bailey, Jennifer L. "Over the Hill? The Anatomy of Revolution at Fifty." Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 26, No. 4, November 1989, pp. 421–431.
  2. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia entry on Brinton Archived 2007-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Reviews of Brinton's History of Western Morals Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Reference to Brinton's work for OSS[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Education: Good Fellows". Time, May 3, 1948.
  6. ^ Stackelberg, Roderick. Memory and History: Recollections of a Historian of Nazism. 2011. p. 88.
  7. ^ "Clarence Crane Brinton". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  8. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  9. ^ "Brinton Teaches Senators Lesson About Revolution." The Harvard Crimson, February 20, 1968.
  10. ^ For example, in his fifth chapter, "Recourse to the Sword" Archived 2009-09-28 at the Wayback Machine, of the online book Treatise on Twelve Lights
  11. ^ a b "Many Mansions."American Historical Association. Archived from the original.
  12. ^ Babbitt, Irving. Review of The Political Ideas of the English Romanticists, by Crane Brinton. Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3, September 1927, pp. 441–444. doi:10.2307/2143132
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Crane Brinton Biography: Bibliography. American Historical Association. Archived from the original.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Google Books
  17. ^ "PsycBOOKS: Book – The anatomy of revolution". APA PsychNET.
  18. ^ From Many, One: The Process of Political Integration, the Problem of World Government. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948.
  19. ^ Book details, Ideas and Men: The Story of Western Thought Archived 2008-03-25 at the Wayback Machine[ISBN missing]
  20. ^

External links[edit]