Barbara Tuchman

American, 1912-1989

Barbara Tuchman was born to a life of wealth and privilege; her father owned The Nation and her mother was the daughter of a diplomat. These connections allowed her to pursue a career as an international researcher and foreign correspondent after her graduation from Radcliffe in 1933. These early experiences allowed her to gain an intimate knowledge of the realities of war and foreign policy, a knowledge that informed her later historical writing. Her books, including the two Pulitzer Prize winners The Guns of August and American Experience in China, 1911–45, are noted for their expansive, literary style that favors narrative over strict scholarship. Tuchman achieved both critical and popular success with this approach. Along with her two Pulitzer Prizes, she received a National Book Award, was selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecture, and served as the first female president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.