Walter A. McDougall

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Walter Allen McDougall (born December 3, 1946 in Washington, D.C.) is an American historian, currently a professor of history and the Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania.[1][2]

McDougall graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College before completing his Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 1974.[1] He was a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution, and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. He also received an Earhart Foundation Fellowship. He was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley for 13 years before moving to Pennsylvania.[3] He is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and also an editor of Orbis, quarterly journal of world affairs published by the institute.[1]


McDougall is the author of many books on history. In 1986 he received the Pulitzer Prize for History for his book ...the Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (1985).,[3] in which he examined the space programs and the politics of the USA, Europe and USSR, arguing that the Soviet Union made its way into space first because it was the world's first technocracy, which he defines as "the institutionalization of technological change for state purpose." He also examined the growth of a political economy of technology in the U.S. and the Soviet Union.[4]

McDougall's first book was France's Rhineland Diplomacy, 1914-1924: The Last Bid for a Balance of Power in Europe (1978). In 1984 he co-edited The Grenada Papers. He also published Let the Sea Make a Noise: A History of the North Pacific from Magellan to MacArthur in 1993 and Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter With the World Since 1776 in 1997.[3] In 2004 he published Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585–1828, in which he described the United States as "the central event of the past four hundred years", showing that with their historically unequaled freedom Americans found various ways to satisfy both their good and bad desires.[5] In 2008 he published Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829–1877, in which he covered all the major events and social forces of the Civil War era.[6]

Walter A. McDougall was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Sigma chapter) and a Vietnam veteran.

McDougall and his wife, the former Jonna Van Zanten have two children and reside in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His interests include books, music from J.S. Bach to Bob Dylan, chess, baseball, bridge, golf and C.S. Lewis.


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