Place of Birth
Walter Johnson HS, Amherst College (BA, History), U. Pennsylvania (PhD, History)
Most memorable or most influential class at Amherst?
David Blight's course on the Civil War era.
Most memorable or most influential professor?
Gordie Levin – I took all four of his courses on American diplomatic history, and more than anything else, they convinced me I wanted to read, write, and teach history for a living.
U.S. politics, the American Civil War era, global ideological conflict in the nineteenth century
Awards and Prizes
C. Vann Woodward Prize for best dissertation in southern history, 2012
Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Read it in a Victorian literature class with Andrew Parker and I still think it's the most beautiful book written in English.
Eric Hobsbawm. I don't always agree with his politics, but no historian was better at grand synthesis. His memoirs are fascinating, too.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author.
I spent seven years of grad school working on my dissertation, and then another five years revising it for publication. A pretty ordinary first-book path for an academic, but not something I'd recommend for anyone else.
- Short excerpt of an interview with Andrew O'Hehir at Salon
- Conversation with the historian Eric Foner
- Dissent interview
- An interview with Jacobin
- A related essay Matt wrote for Aeon about slavery's future