A specialist in modern and contemporary European history, Joel Colton taught at Duke University from 1947 to 1989 and chaired the History Department from 1967 to 1974. He is the author of books and articles in French history and became known to generations of students and teachers as co-author with the late Robert R. Palmer of the widely read college textbook A History of the Modern World, of which the tenth edition was published in 2007. At Duke he served for several years on the executive committee and as chair of the university's elected faculty body, the Academic Council. On extended leave from Duke, he was Director for Humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York from 1974 to 1982, administering a domestic and international program in support of research and teaching in the humanities. After retiring at Duke in 1989, he continued his research and writing, participating in conferences at home and abroad, and serving as lecturer for alumni travel groups in Europe and Asia.Born August 23, 1918, and educated in New York City, to which he remained a frequent visitor, he graduated from Townsend Harris High School in 1933 and 1937 received his B.A. degree from the City College of New York, magna cum laude, with election to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and with honors in French and medals in Latin and French. Graduating in the Depression years, he began graduate work in history at Columbia University on a part-time basis while working full time as an assistant in the Registrar's office at the City College. He earned an M.A. degree at Columbia in 1940. Preparing himself also for high school teaching at a time when college teaching positions were scarce, he took a master's degree in education at the City College and taught at the Bronx High School of Science in New York as a teacher in training in 1941-42.Military service in the Second World War interrupted his graduate studies. Serving in the U.S. Armny from August 1942 to June 1946, he was commissioned in 1944 and served overseas as a military intelligence officer in Europe for eighteen months, in combat and in the occupation of Germany. In articles he wrote in 1955 and published in Army History and the Duke Alumni Magazine commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe he described some of his wartime experiences, including his crossing of the Rhine at the Remagen Bridge in March 1945.After the war he resumed his graduate work, began teaching at Duke in 1947, and received his Ph.D. degree from Columbia in 1950. His first historical publication, Compulsory Labor Arbitration in France, 1936-1939 (Columbia UP, 1951), an outgrowth of his dissertation, received favorable reviews in this country and in Europe. Close to a half century later, in 1999, Osaka University in Japan published a Japanese translation of the monograph in a series described as "notable books on France and Spain in the 1930s." His second book, more broadly focused on the 1930s, was Lï¿½on Blum: Humanist in Politics, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1966, with a French translation following in 1968 published by Fayard, and a second edition and new forward published by Duke University Press in 1987. Alfred Knopf, who took a special interest in the book, reprinted in the then Knopf house organ, teh Borzoi Quarterly, the blooper in the British magazine Encounter that read: "The modern novel has been in a serious crisis ever since James Joyce's monumental effort to narrate a day in the life of Leon Blum." Lï¿½on Blum was, of course, not James Joyce's Leopold Bloom but the gifted French intellectual and literary figure in the years before 1914 who came to head the French Socialist party after the First World War. He was France's first Socialist, and first Jewish, premier, heading the Popular Front government in the tumultuous 1930s. In the war years he became a prisoner of
Lloyd Kramer is professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His books include Threshold of a New World: Intellectuals and the Exile Experience in Paris, 1830-1848 and Lafayette in Two Worlds: Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolutions.