Historians of Modern Europe

Historians of Modern Europe

Historians of Modern Europe

Historians of Modern Europe

Excerpt

S. William Halperin was born in Lithuania in 1905 and brought to this country early in life. He received his higher education at the University of Chicago and earned his highest academic credentials there in 1930. Called to the State Teachers College at Pittsburg, Kansas -- an appointment he could not decline at a time when any kind of respectable employment was a prize -- he was pleasantly surprised by the last-minute award of an instructorship in the department which had just granted him the Ph.D. Except for sabbatical absences and visiting appointments, which have included such faraway places as India, he had found his academic home. Upon his retirement in 1970, William Halperin could look back on forty years of uninterrupted teaching and writing under the aegis of the Rockefeller legacy.

When that moment arrived, thirty years separated me from my first graduate class, Halperin's "Italy since 1815." The young assistant professor I met there in 1940 was a portly, cheerful man, more gregarious and extroverted than the mentor whom the postwar generation of graduate students came to know. From this first encounter with graduate study and the man who directed so much of my own subsequent progress, I retain not only an uncommonly vivid recollection of the subject matter -- courses on modern Italian history were a rarity then -- but also the memory of extracurricular association with the instructor unusual in the University of Chicago of that day. Without any invidious comparison, I recall being drawn to the rising scholar because he offered in addition to expertise what every beginning graduate student . . .

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