Bernard A. Weisberger

Weisberger headshot
Born in Hudson, New York, Bernard Allen Weisberger (1922-2024) was a 19-year-old student at Columbia University when the United States joined World War II. He elected to study Japanese and joined the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, stationed successively in Washington, DC, New Delhi, India, and Kunming, China. He resumed his studies in 1946, received a PhD in history from the University of Chicago and started a teaching career that took him to Antioch College, Wayne State University, the University of Chicago, the University of Rochester (where he chaired the History Department) and Vassar College.

Weisberger’s first book,
Reporters for the Union (1953), expanded upon his dissertation; his second, They Gathered at the River (1958) offered a history of evangelical revivals from the 18th through the mid-20th century. His groundbreaking 1959 essay, “The Dark and Bloody Ground of Reconstruction Historiography” earned the Charles Ramsdell Prize for best article published that year in the Journal of Southern History. His increasing interest in broader audiences beyond academia led him to a long association with American Heritage magazine, and to retirement from teaching in the early 1970s.

Weisberger’s other books include
The American Heritage History of the American People (1971); The Dream Maker: William C. Durant, Founder of General Motors (1979); Cold War, Cold Peace (1984); The Statue of Liberty (1985); The LaFollettes of Wisconsin: Love and Politics in Progressive America (1994); America Afire (2000); and When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 (2006). A lifelong advocate for popular history writing and historically-informed journalism, Weisberger wrote “In the News” from 1989 to 1999, a regular column in American Heritage examining current events in light of historical antecedents. He collaborated with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on projects including The Statue of Liberty (1985) and The Congress (1988), and with television journalist Bill Moyers on projects including A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers (1984).

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The Dream Maker eBook cover