BARBARA TUCHMAN Biography - Writers


Biography » writers » barbara tuchman


Barbara Wertheim Tuchman was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes for non-fiction in her           
historical books on men of war and on the brink of war. She was awarded her               
first prize for her fourth book, The Guns of August, a study of World War I,               
released in 1962. Her second Pulitzer Prize was for her book Stillwell and the             
American Experience in China, 1911-1945, in 1971, a biography of General                   
Stillwell, who played a major role in China in World War II.                               
Barbara Wertheim was born on January 30, 1912, in New York City, to Alma and               
Maurice Wertheim, both of their families were distinguished. Her father was a             
banker, publisher, philanthropist and was president of the American Jewish                 
Committee, 1941-1943. Her maternal grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., was                 
ambassador to Turkey, and her uncle, Henry Morgenthau Jr., was Secretary of the           
Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.                                           
She graduated from the Walden School and in 1933, she received a B.A. degree               
from Radcliffe College. She was always interested in history and her honor                 
thesis was titled The Moral Justification for the British Empire. Tuchman went             
to work for The Nation, a magazine owned by her father. In 1937, she went to               
Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War. She also reported other events for             
other magazines. In 1939, she married Dr. Lester Reginald Tuchman, a New York             
Internist, and they had three daughters.                                                   
Tuchman wrote eleven books: The Lost British Policy , British policy toward               
Spain and the Western Mediterranean, 1938; Bible and the Sword , Relations                 
between Britain and Palestine, 1956; The Zimmermann Telegram , a 1917 diplomatic           
message and its international repercussions, 1958; The Guns of August , the               
background and beginning of World War I, 1962; The Proud Tower , the quarter-century       
preceding World War I, 1966; Stillwell and the American Experience in China,               
1911-1945 , a biography of General Joseph W. Stillwell, 1971; Notes From China ,           
A Trip to China, 1972; A Distant Mirror , The 14th Century, 1978; Practicing               
History, a collection of her shorter writings, 1981; The March of Folly: From             
Troy to Vietnam , some historical mistakes, 1984; and The First Salute , the               
American Revolution placed in an international perspective, 1988. In many of her           
books, Tuchman prepared herself by traveling to the areas where the events took           
place. Prior to writing The Guns of August, she went to Europe for an on-the-spot         
survey of the areas where the early land battles of World War I had taken place.           
She followed the routes that the German armies had taken through Luxemburg,               
Belgium, and northern France in their attempt to reach Paris. She tried to                 
personally familiarize herself with the history that she was writing.                     
Tuchman had a good hold and feeling of her vocation in history and biography.             
She once told an audience that "the writer's object should be to hold the reader's         
attention. I want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning until the end.           
This is accomplished only when the narrative moves steadily ahead, not when it             
comes to a weary standstill, overloaded with every item uncovered in the                   
Barbara W. Tuchman died of complications of a stroke on February 6, 1989, at her           
home in Cos Cob, Connecticut. She left behind a better understanding of what               
preceded and followed the men preparing for war and war itself. She made history           
an enjoyable readable experience.