Robert Cowley is an American military historian, who writes on topics in American and European military history ranging from the Civil War through World War II. He has held several senior positions in book and magazine publishing and is the founding editor of the award-winning MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History; Cowley has also written extensively and edited three collections of essays in counterfactual history known as What If?
As part of his research he has traveled the entire length of the Western Front, from the North Sea to the Swiss Border.
Early life and education
Cowley is the son of prominent writer and literary critic Malcolm Cowley and Muriel Mauer. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, graduating in 1952. Thereafter, he earned an A.B. degree in history in 1956 from Harvard College in Massachusetts.
He was married to Blair Cowley; they later divorced and she remarried to artist Paul Resika. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Miranda. Miranda Cowley, is married to film producer and director Bruno Heller, son of screenwriter Lukas Heller and grandson of political philosopher Hermann Heller. Cowley later married Susan Cheever, daughter of novelist John Cheever. He is currently married to Edith Lorillard. They have two daughters, Olivia Wassenaar and Savannah Cowley.
- 1918: Gamble for Victory. The Greatest Attack of World War I, by Robert Cowley, New York, Macmillan Books, 1964. OCLC 3860691
- Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age, by Malcolm Cowley and Robert Cowley, New York, Scribner, 1966.
- The Rulers of Britain, by Robert Cowley, New York, Stonehenge Press, 1982, ISBN 0-86706-068-9.
- Experience of War, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Random House, 1993, ISBN 0-440-50553-4
- The Reader's Companion to Military History, by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker, New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1996, ISBN 978-0-618-12742-9
- No End Save Victory: Perspectives on World War II, edited by Robert Cowley, New York, Putnam, 2001, ISBN 978-0-425-18338-0 OCLC 44932120
- With My Face to the Enemy: Perspectives on the Civil War, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Putnam, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7126-7946-6 OCLC 45375993
- West Point: Two Centuries of Honor and Tradition, edited by Robert Cowley and Thomas Guinzburg, New York: Warner Books, 2002. ISBN 0-446-53018-2 OCLC 49748770
- The Great War: Perspectives on the First World War, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Random House, 2003, ISBN 978-1-84413-419-9
- The Cold War, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Random House, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8129-6716-6
- What If? The World’s Most Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Putnam, 1999, ISBN 0-425-17642-8 OCLC 41338197
- More What If? Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Putnam, 2001, ISBN 0-399-14795-0
- What Ifs? of American History, ed. Robert Cowley, New York, Putnam, 1999, ISBN 0-399-15091-9
- What If? 2
- Random House Author Spotlight
- The Lessons of War Sell in Peacetime, William H. Honan, New York Times, December 19, 1988.
- Generals, Battlefields, and What Raleigh Said, Richard Bernstein, New York Times, December 18, 1996.
- Review: The Reader's Companion to Military History, Andrew Krepinevich, Foreign Affairs, May/June 1997.
- Historians Warming To Games Of 'What If', William H. Honan, New York Times, January 7, 1998.
- Word for Word: Historical 'What Ifs?'; Annie Could've Gotten Her Gun And Blown Away the Kaiser, David Clay Large, New York Times, May 10, 1998.
- Books in Brief: Nonfiction, David Murray, New York Times, October 17, 1999.
- Making Books; The 'What Ifs' That Fascinate, Martin Arnold, New York Times, December 21, 2000.
- It All Could Have Been Different, Chuck Leddy, San Francisco Chronicle, September 9, 2003.
- Imagine, Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review, September 5, 2004.