Born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of a lumber merchant, Thomas Parke Hughes is an eminent historian of science and technology, and perhaps the best writer in his discipline. His book American Genesis was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1989, and Elmer Sperry won the Dexter Prize in 1971. After serving in the United States Navy during World War II as a lieutenant commander, Hughes continued his education at the University of Virginia, receiving a Ph. D in history from the university in 1953. He then taught history at Washington and Lee University (1956--63)); MIT (1963--66); and Southern Methodist University (1969--73). From 1973 until 1988, he was professor of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1988 he was appointed Visiting Research Professor at the Wissenshaftszentrum in Berlin. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Hughes received important recognition for his work. In 1984 he was selected to serve on the Advisory Council of the Smithsonian Institution and awarded a Leonardo da Vinci medal. In addition to his books, Hughes has written extensively in professional journals. Several of his articles examine how United States technological support built the former Soviet Union into a twentieth-century superpower.