Show The Graduate Center Menu

David Nasaw
Position: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph. D. Columbia University
Research Interests: American History

Professor David Nasaw has just retired as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center.

His most recent publication is The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, selected by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year and a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography.   He is also the author of Andrew Carnegie, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst which was awarded the Bancroft Prize for History, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for Non-Fiction, the Ambassador Book Prize for Biography, and the Sperber Prize for Biography. He is an emeritus faculty member of the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir.

On the day of his retirement party, he reflected on his students, his writing, and what makes The Graduate Center special. Read the interview here.

Selected Publications

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. (Penguin Press, 2012).


Andrew Carnegie (Penguin Press, 2006).

Andrew Carnegie: The ‘Gospel of Wealth’ Essays and Other Writings, editor (Penguin Classics, 2006).

The Chief: Life and Times of William Randolph Hearst (Houghton Mifflin, 2000)

Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements (Basic Books, 1993).

The Course of United States History, vols. I-II, editor (Wadsworth, 1987).

Children of the City: At Work and at Play (Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1985; Oxford University Press, 1986).

Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in United States (Oxford University Press, 1979, 1980).

Starting Your Own High School, editor (Random House, 1972).

Articles, Reviews, Essays:

“How the Horrors of World War II Lived On,” Nation, May 5, 2015                      
“The Giving Season,” Nation¸ December 2, 2010
“Introduction” to AHR Roundtable: Historians and Biography, American Historical Review, June, 2009.

“A Violent Regeneration,” American Prospect, June, 2009.

“Here comes the Bogeyman: a chaotic portrait of Rupert Murdoch and his discontents,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 1, 2009.

“Scandal in Pittsburgh,” London Review of Books, July 19, 2007.

“Looking the Carnegie Gift Horse in the Mouth: The 19th Century Critique of Big Philanthropy,” Slate, November 10, 2006

“American Moguls: Biographies of Business Titans,” Wall Street Review (July 15, 2006)

“Everyone, Then No One,” London Review of Books (February 23, 2006)

“Popular Culture,” in “America Unabridged,” American Heritage (December, 2004)

“How do you like the Journal’s War?” Biblion VII, no. 2 (Spring, 1999).

“Earthly Delights,” New Yorker, March 23, 1998.

“Youse an yer Noble Scrap: On Strike With the Newsboy Legion, 1899,” in “Big Town, Big Time: a New York Epic, 1898-1998,” New York Daily News, March 3, 1998.

"Teaching Cultural History to Graduate Students," Radical History Review (Fall, 1996)

“The Champagne Safari: The Life and Times of Charles Bedaux,” New York Times: Arts and Leisure Section (November 3, 1996).

“One Big Spender: William Randolph Hearst and San Simeon,” Condé Nast Traveler 31 (September, 1996).

"The Birth of the Movies," American Heritage (November, 1993).

"Culture and Class," Dissent (Winter, 1987).

"Dirty-Faced Davids and the Twin Goliaths," American Heritage (April/May, 1985).

"Promise and Performance of Vocational Schooling: An Essay Review," Harvard Educational Review 54, no. 2 (May, 1984).

With Barbara Ehrenreich, "Kids as Consumers and Commodities," Nation (May 14, 1983), reprinted in Generations: A Universal Family Album, Smithsonian Institution, 1987.

"From Inquiétude to Revolution," Journal of Contemporary History 11, nos. 2,3 (July, 1976).

Articles and/or chapters in multi-authored collections

“Gilded Age Gospels,” in Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy, edited by Steve Fraser & Gary Gerstle, Harvard University Press, 2005.

“It Begins With the Lights: Electrification and the Rise of Public Entertainment," in On the Edge of Your Seat: Popular Theater and Film in Early Twentieth-Century American Art, ed. by Patricia McDonnell, Yale University Press, 2002.

"The Marx Brothers," "The Roxy Theater," "Loew's Paradise," in Encyclopedia of New York City, edited by Kenneth T. Jackson, Yale University Press, 1994.

"Cities of Light, Landscapes of Pleasure," in Landscapes of Modernity, edited by Olivier Zunz and David Ward, Russell Sage Foundation, 1992.

"Children and Commercial Culture: Moving Pictures in the Early Twentieth Century," in Small Worlds: Childhood and Adolescence in America, edited by Paula Petrik and Elliott West, University of Kansas Press, 1992.

"The Newsies," in The Private Side of American History: Readings in Everyday Life. Vol. II, edited by Thomas R. Frazier, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987.

Book Reviews published in American Historical Review, American Studies, Boston Globe, Business History Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Social History, London Review of Books, Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Nation, New York Times Book Review, Science and Society, Social Policy, Variety, Wall Street Journal and other journals and newspapers.
Op-ed articles and other opinion pieces in New York Times, The Guardian (London), Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Slate, Washington Post, Daily Beast, and other publications

Selected Papers and Invited Lectures (since 1997 only)
10/09 “The Chief and TR,” Theodore Roosevelt Association annual meeting, Tampa, Florida
Symposium: Foundations of Modern Philanthropy, Carnegie Corporation of New York
1/09 “On Historical Fiction.” 2009 Key West Literary Conference, Key West, Florida
5/08 Keynote, New York Public Library event to honor Steven Schwarzman
1/08 Arizona Literary Society annual lectures (sponsored by Northern Trust)
Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Arizona
12/07 “Let There Be Light,” Looking into the Ashcan: Ways of Seeing, New-York Historical Society
11/07 First Annual William Simon Lecture, Manhattan Institute, Harvard Club, New York City

William Cullen Bryant Lecture, Bryant Library, Roslyn, New York
10/07 Al and Sadye Gartner Honors Lecture, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
4/07 Keynote, “Weekend With History” banquet, New-York Historical Society
5/07 Richard D. Whittemore Book & Author Luncheon, Port Washington, New York
11/06 Georgia Center for the Book, Decatur, Georgia
Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Georgia
“Live from the NYPL”: a conversation with Vartan Gregorian, New York Public Library

“Aloud” lecture series, Los Angeles Public Library
10/06 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
5/05 Keynote address, Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and International Philanthropy Symposium luncheon, Dunfermline, Scotland
10/04 University Lecture Series, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
3/04 Thirty-First Annual Ewing Lecture, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA.
11/03 “Carnegie’s Haul,” Chicago Humanities Festival
11/01 Honoree, Literary Odyssey Dinners, Los Angeles Public Library
10/01 Annual Presidential lecture, Queensborough Community College
9/01 Los Angeles Public Library: 2001 Author's Series
7/01 Keynote speaker and resident scholar, "Newspapers in American Life" program, sponsored by New York Council for the Humanities

4/01 Invited Speaker
"Citizen Kentucky: Democracy and the Media"
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
4/01 Keynote speaker, Friends of the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley
3/01 Prologue Literary Society Lectureship, Palm Springs, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Sausalito, and Rancho Sante Fe, California
11/00 New York State Writers Institute, Albany, New York
10/00 Guest speaker, Chairman’s Dinner, New York State Council for the Humanities
3/00 Writer in residence, Pennsylvania State University at Hazelton
1/00 “Race, Representation and Spectacle in Early Twentieth-Century America,”
Commentary, American Historical Association Annual Convention
Chicago, Illinois
4/99 “Remembering Coney Island,” New-York Historical Society
3/98 “Visualizing History for the Public,” Landmarks Conference in American History
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
7/97 “Black and White in American Popular Culture,” Summer Symposium, Dartmouth College
Selected Honors, Awards, Fellowships
(since 1997 only)
12/06-4/07 For Andrew Carnegie

New-York Historical Society Prize in American History
Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Biography
New York Times: “Notable” book of the year
Business Week, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Library Journal:
“Best” book of 2006
4/02 Elected to Society of American Historians
12/00-4/01 For The Chief:

Bancroft Prize in History, administered by Columbia University
J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, administered by the Columbia University School of Journalism and Nieman Foundation, Harvard University
The Ambassador Book Award in Biography and Autobiography,
offered by the English-Speaking Union of the United States
Ann M. Sperber Biography Award for Journalism, administered by Fordham
National Book Critics Circle nomination for biography prize
New York Times, Hartford Courant: a “notable” book of the year
Library Journal, Los Angeles Times, G.Q., San Francisco Chronicle,
London Daily Telegraph: a “best" book of the year
Business Week, Australian Financial Review: a 2000 “best business book”
Washington Post: editor’s choice; selected by Jonathan Yardley as “best biography” of 2000
WNBC, NYC: one of six “favorite” books of the year one of ten “Editor’s Choices” in Biography and
in Entertainment
Barnes and Noble: one of ten “best history books” of the year
American Heritage (December, 2004): one of ten best business books about the American past
4/97 PSC-CUNY Research Award (also 4/96, 4/94, 4/93, 4/89)
University Committee on Research
City University of New York