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Michael Beschloss

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Michael Beschloss
BornMichael Richard Beschloss
(1955-11-30) November 30, 1955 (age 68)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
EducationWilliams College (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
SubjectUnited States presidency
SpouseAfsaneh Mashayekhi

Michael Richard Beschloss[1] (born November 30, 1955)[2] is an American historian specializing in the United States presidency.[3][4][5] He is the author of nine books on the presidency.[3]

Early life[edit]

Beschloss was born in Chicago, grew up in Flossmoor, Illinois, and was educated at Eaglebrook School, Phillips Academy (Andover, MA), Williams College and Harvard University.[6] He majored in political science, studying under James MacGregor Burns at Williams,[7] from which he graduated with Highest Honors, and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School, with the original intention of writing history while serving as a foundation executive.[8]


Beschloss has been a frequent commentator on the PBS NewsHour and is the NBC News Presidential Historian. He is a trustee of the White House Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation[9] and he also sits on the board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He has been a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), the Urban Institute, the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs[10] and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. He also sat on the advisory board to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. He has held appointments in history at the Smithsonian Institution,[11] as a Senior Associate Member at St. Antony's College (University of Oxford),[11] a visiting scholar at the Harvard University Russian Research Center,[11] a Senior Fellow of the Annenberg Foundation, and a Montgomery Fellow and Dorsett Fellow at Dartmouth College. Since 2014, he has been chair of the annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards.

Beschloss has appeared on The Daily Show in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010. He was portrayed by Chris Kattan on NBC's Saturday Night Live on February 14, 1998.[12]

He started a Twitter account, @BeschlossDC, in October 2012.[13][3] It appears on Time magazine's list of "Best Twitter Feeds of 2013".[14] He also has contributed columns on history under the title HistorySource to The New York Times.[15]

Beschloss is also the editor of Washington by Meg Greenfield (2001) and Essays in Honor of James MacGregor Burns (with Thomas Cronin) (1988).


Beschloss received a 2005 News & Documentary Emmy Award for the Discovery Channel's Decisions That Shook the World, of which he was the host; the category was "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research". He has also received the Williams College Bicentennial Medal,[16] the State of Illinois's Order of Lincoln (the State's Highest Honor), the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, the Ambassador Book Award, the Rutgers University Living History Award, the New York State Archives History Award, the Founders Award of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Phillips Academy Andover Alumni Award of Distinction. He has received honorary doctorates from Lafayette College, Williams College, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Saint Peter's College, Governors State University and Allegheny College.[10]

Michael Beschloss was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2004 in the area of Communications and Education.[17] In October 2022, with a ceremony at the National Archives in Washington DC, Beschloss received the National Archives' annual Records of Achievement Award.

In 2019, Beschloss received The Lincoln Forum's Richard Nelson Current Award of Achievement.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Beschloss is the son of Ruth and Morris Beschloss, who was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. He has two sons with his Iranian-born wife Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss.[11][9] His wife is president and CEO of the Rock Creek Group, a Washington, D.C. investment firm. The couple are advisory board members of Resources for Inner City Children.[19]


  • Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance (1980); started as Beschloss's senior honors thesis at Williams College
  • Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (1986)
  • Eisenhower: A Centennial Life (1990)
  • The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960–1963 (1991)
  • The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941–1945 (2002)
  • Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789–1989 (2007)
  • Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times (2018)

Co-authored Books

  • At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (1993); with Strobe Talbott.

Edited Books

  • Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963–1964 (1997)
  • Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964–1965 (2001),

Edited transcriptions of Lyndon B. Johnson's conversations, as captured by his taping system, with historical annotation and commentary. A third Johnson volume is forthcoming.

  • Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011)


President Bill Clinton told People in December 1997 that the first audiobook he ever listened to was Taking Charge by Michael Beschloss.[20] In Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, President George W. Bush is quoted as telling the author Elie Wiesel in February 2003, "I read your views on Auschwitz in Michael Beschloss' book", referring to The Conquerors.[21] Bush also refers to Beschloss' book Presidential Courage in his 2010 memoir Decision Points.[22]

John Frankenheimer's last film, Path to War (HBO, 2002), starring Donald Sutherland and Michael Gambon, was based in part on Beschloss' two books on Lyndon B. Johnson.


  1. ^ "Michael Beschloss". illinoisauthors.org. Illinois Center for the Book/Illinois State Library. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  2. ^ "Beschloss, Michael R." Library of Congress Name Authority File. Library of Congress. March 12, 2003. Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  3. ^ a b c Beard, David (25 April 2013). "Historian Michael Beschloss takes to Twitter and offers multimedia tweets" – via washingtonpost.com.
  4. ^ "Michael Beschloss chronicles American 'Presidents of War'". PBS NewsHour. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 2021-12-03.
  5. ^ Crandall, Russell (4 July 2019). "War Powers". Survival. 61 (4): 157–162. doi:10.1080/00396338.2019.1637128. ISSN 0039-6338. S2CID 199353051.
  6. ^ New York Times, January 28, 1987, and July 25, 1991.
  7. ^ "James MacGregor Burns with Michael Beschloss". C-SPAN.org.
  8. ^ C-SPAN, "Booknotes", June 21, 1991.
  9. ^ a b "Michael Beschloss". msnbc.com. 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  10. ^ a b "Michael Beschloss | Speaker Agency, Speaking Fee, Videos". SPEAKING.com Keynote Speakers Bureau. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  11. ^ a b c d "Character Above All: MICHAEL R. BESCHLOSS". www.pbs.org.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-09-21. Retrieved 2012-02-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ @BeschlossDC, Twitter.
  14. ^ "Not Found - Tech". Archived from the original on 2013-03-30 – via techland.time.com.
  15. ^ AP, November 20, 2013
  16. ^ "Michael Beschloss, Class of 1977". Alumni Awards.
  17. ^ "Laureates by Year - The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  18. ^ The Lincoln Forum
  19. ^ "Supporters, Partners, Board". Resources for Inner City Children. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  20. ^ People, December 29, 1997.
  21. ^ Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 320
  22. ^ George W Bush, Decision Points, pp. 121-122.

External links[edit]