Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, in 1918, James Burns was educated at Williams College and Harvard University (Ph.D., 1947). In 1941 he began teaching at Williams, where he remains as Distinguished Professor Emeritus. Although a political scientist by training, Burns approaches his work with the eye of a historian. His forte is American political history, as masterfully demonstrated in his popular biographies of Franklin Roosevelt The Lion and the Fox (1956), and Roosevelt: The Soldier of Fortune (1970). He completed john Kennedy: A Political Profile in 1959. He also wrote a multivolume history titled The American Experiment: The Vineyard of Liberty (1982). Burns's two volumes on the life and work of FDR won him the Pulitzer Prize, the Parkman Prize, and the National Book Award. The first volume of The American Experiment earned him a second Pulitzer. Not content with merely writing about politics and political history, Burns has long been active on the national political scene. In 1958 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress.