Historian and Political Commentator
American Academy Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2002
Walter Laqueur was born in Prussia, now Poland, into a Jewish family. In 1938, Laqueur left Europe for Israel. There, he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for one year, and in 1939, joined a Kibbutz and worked as an agricultural laborer until 1944. He then moved to Jerusalem where he worked as a journalist covering news in Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries until 1953.
After his time in Israel, Laqueur lived in London, where he was a founder and editor of the Journal of Contemporary History with George Mosse. Laqueur was also Director of the Institute of Contemporary History and the Wiener Library in London from 1965-1994. He also served as a member and later as the Chairman of the International Research Council of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. From 1968-1972, Laqueur was Professor of the History of Ideas at Brandeis University and was a professor of history and government at Georgetown University, from 1976-1988. Laqueur has also served as a visiting professor of history and government at Harvard University, University of Chicago, Tel Aviv University, and Johns Hopkins University.
The majority of Laqueur’s research dealt with European history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly Russian history and German history, as well as the history of the Middle East. Laqueur was one of the founders of the study of political violence, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism. He has also written on topics such as the German Youth Movement, Zionism, Israeli history, cultural history of the Weimar Republic and Russia, the Holocaust, fascism, and the diplomatic history of the Cold War. The author of some three dozen books, Laquer’s recents volumes are The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent (Thomas Dunne 2007); After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent (Macmillan, 2012) and Putinism: Russia and its future with the West (Thomas Dunne, 2015).