Walter "Walt" LaFeber (born August 30, 1933 in Walkerton, Indiana) is Marie Underhill Noll Professor Emeritus of History and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in the Department of History at Cornell University. He is one of the United States' most distinguished historians, a leader of the Historical revisionism school of the History of U.S. foreign policy, and a member of the "Wisconsin School" of the New Left along with Lloyd Gardner and Thomas J. McCormick. LaFeber is known for providing Williams-like but more subtle and widely read revisionist histories of the Cold War in his books.
The son of a grocer, he received his BA from Hanover College in 1955, his MA from Stanford University in 1956 and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1959, under William Appleman Williams, after which Cornell University hired him as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 1967, gaining the Noll Professorship in 1968, and becoming the first-ever recipient of the John M. Clark Teaching Award at Cornell; his History of Foreign Relations class achieved a reputation as one of the toughest and most popular courses on campus
LaFeber and his wife Sandra have two children, Scott and Suzanne.
LaFeber's The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (1963, 1998) received the Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-2006 (1966) is currently in its 10th edition (2006). Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1984, 1992) received the Gustavus Meyers Prize. The American Age: United States Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad Since 1750 (1989, 1994) became a New Left textbook. The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations Throughout History (1997) received both the Bancroft Prize in American History and the Ellis Hawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians.
LaFeber examined the effect of modern sports and communication empires in his book, Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism (1999, 2002), which analyzes the rise in popularity of basketball, Michael Jordan, Nike and cable satellite networks and their relation to globalization.
LaFeber is past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has also served on numerous scholarly editorial boards and the Advisory Committee to the Historical Division of the U.S. Department of State.
LaFeber retired in 2006 after 46 years on the Cornell faculty. His final lecture on April 25, 2006 was given to a 3,000-person gathering of former students, Cornell alumni, and colleagues at the Beacon Theater in New York City.
- The Deadly Bet: LBJ, Vietnam, and the 1968 Election (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005). read online
- Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism (1999, 2002). read online
- The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations Throughout History'' (1997) (Bancroft Prize) (Ellis Hawley Prize) read online
- Liberty and Power: U.S. Diplomatic History, 1750-1945 (1997) read online
- The American Search for Opportunity (1994), Volume II of The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations read online
- The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad Since 1750 (1989, 1994) read online
- Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1984, 1992) (Gustavus Meyers Prize) read online
- The Panama Canal: The Crisis in Historical Perspective (1978, 1989) read online
- The American Century: A History of the United States Since the 1890s (with Richard Polenberg and Nancy Woloch) (1975) (7th ed. 2013) read online
- Origins of the Cold War: 1941-47 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1971)
- America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-2006 (1966) (10th ed. 2006) read online 10th ed. on Amazon
- John Quincy Adams and American Continental Empire: Letters, Papers, and Speeches (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965)
- The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (1963, 1998) Beveridge Award read online
- James G. Morgan, Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of American Imperialism. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.
- "Walter LaFeber: Scholar, Teacher, Intellectual", Oxford Journal of Diplomatic History', Vol. 28, No. 5 read online