Richard W. Leopold Professor of History
Principal Research Interest(s): Britain and its Empire
Deborah Cohen (Ph.D., Berkeley, 1996), Richard W. Leopold Professor of History, is a historian of modern Britain and Europe.
Her interests run the methodological gamut, from social science-inspired comparative history to biography. Trained as a modern Europeanist (with specialties in Germany and Great Britain) she has recently published on Anglo-Argentines and the history of family capitalism and on American foreign correspondents. Although her subjects have varied, a few thematic interests run through: state and society, the public histories of private lives, and material culture.
Cohen's new book is Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War (Random House and William Collins, 2022). It won the Mark Lynton History Prize (Nieman Foundation/Columbia School of Journalism), the Goldsmith Prize (Shorenstein Center/Harvard Kennedy School) and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize (Phi Beta Kappa). It was named a best book of the year by the New Yorker, NPR, Vanity Fair, BookPage and Booklist.
Cohen's first book, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939, was published by the University of California in 2001, and awarded the Social Science History Association's Allan Sharlin Prize. Her second book, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions, was published by Yale University Press in 2006; it won the American Historical Association's Forkosch Prize for the best book on Britain after 1485 and was the co-winner of the North American Conference on British Studies' Albion prize for the best book on Britain after 1800. Her third book, Family Secrets, was published in 2013 by Viking Penguin in the UK and by Oxford University Press in the US. It was awarded the American Historical Association's Forkosch Prize for the best book on Britain after 1485 and the North American Conference on British Studies' Stansky prize for the best book on Britain after 1800 and was the subject of a roundtable in History Workshop Journal. The Sunday Times (London), the Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement also named Family Secrets a book of the year.
Cohen was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018. She has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies (Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She was awarded the Clarence ver Steeg Faculty Award by Northwestern for her work with graduate students and the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship (2015-2018) for excellence in teaching.
Cohen writes regularly for the Atlantic on subjects ranging from war photography to punk rock and has reviewed for the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, and the Wall Street Journal.
She serves on the editorial board of Past & Present and with Margot Finn and Peter Mandler, co-edits Cambridge University Press' series, Modern British Histories.
Faculty Affiliate and Former Director, Graduate Cluster in British Studies
Faculty Affiliate, The Buffett Institute.