Walter LaFeber

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Walter LaFeber (born August 30, 1933 in Walkerton, Indiana[1]) 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 revisionist, of the nation's Foreign Relations.


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 hired him.

LaFeber and his wife Sandra have two children, Scott and Suzanne.

Academic career[edit]

LaFeber's The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (1963, 1998) received the Albert J. Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association; Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1984, 1992) received the Gustavus Meyers Prize, and 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 Department of State.

LaFeber is known for providing Williams-like but more subtle and widely read revisionist histories of the Cold War in his books.

LaFeber retired in 2006 after 46 years on the Cornell faculty. His final lecture on April 25 was given to a 3,000 person gathering of former students, Cornell alumni, and colleagues at the Beacon Theater in New York City.


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