Michael Beschloss

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Michael Beschloss
Beschloss at Oregon State.jpeg
Beschloss speaking at Oregon State University, November 2015 (Oregon State)
Born Michael Richard Beschloss
(1955-11-30) 30 November 1955 (age 63)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation Historian
Nationality American
Subject United States presidency
Spouse Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss

Michael Richard Beschloss[1] (born November 30, 1955) is an American historian. A specialist in the United States presidency, he is the author of nine books. In November 2013, he was appointed as a contributing columnist on history for The New York Times.[2] His regular "HistorySource" column appears in the "Upshot" section of the newspaper.[3] It is also published in the print Sunday New York Times.

Michael Beschloss with Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Lincoln Memorial, March 18, 2015 (British Embassy US)

Early life

Beschloss was born in Chicago, grew up in Flossmoor, Illinois, and was educated at Eaglebrook School, Andover, Williams College and Harvard University.[4] He majored in political science, working under James MacGregor Burns at Williams, from which he graduated with Highest Honors, and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School, with the original intention of writing history while serving as a foundation executive.[5]


Beschloss has been a frequent commentator on the PBS NewsHour and is the NBC News Presidential Historian. He is a trustee of the White House Historical Association and the National Archives Foundation and he also sits on the board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He has been a trustee of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), the Urban Institute, the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. He also sits on the advisory board to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and was a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. He has served as a historian at the Smithsonian Institution, a Senior Associate Member at St. Antony's College (University of Oxford), a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Russian Research Center, a Senior Fellow of the Annenberg Foundation and a Montgomery Fellow and Dorsett Fellow at Dartmouth College.

Beschloss has appeared on The Daily Show in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010. He was portrayed by Chris Kattan on NBC's Saturday Night Live on February 14, 1998.[6] He started a Twitter account, @BeschlossDC, in October 2012.[7] It appears on Time magazine's list of "Best Twitter Feeds of 2013".[8]


Beschloss received a 2005 News & Documentary Emmy Award for the Discovery Channel's Decisions That Shook the World, of which he was the host; the category was "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research". He has also received the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the State of Illinois's Order of Lincoln, the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, the Ambassador Book Prize, the Rutgers University Living History Award, the New York State Archives History Award and the Founders Award of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He has received honorary doctorates from Lafayette College, Williams College, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Saint Peter's College and Governors State University.[citation needed]

Personal life

Beschloss is married to Iranian-born Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss, who is President and CEO of the Rock Creek Group, a Washington, D.C. hedge fund, former treasurer and chief investment officer of the World Bank, and a current trustee of the Ford Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The couple are advisory board members of Resources for Inner City Children.[9] Beschloss and his wife were guests of President and Mrs Clinton at the White House dinner for British Prime Minister Tony Blair on February 5, 1998.[10] They also attended the Clinton White House dinner celebrating the 200th anniversary of the White House on November 9, 2000.[11] They were guests of President and Mrs George W. Bush at the White House dinner for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on November 2, 2005.[12]


  • Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance (1980); started as Beschloss's senior honors thesis at Williams College
  • Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (1986)
  • Eisenhower: A Centennial Life (1990)
  • The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963 (1991)
  • At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (1993); with Strobe Talbott.
  • Taking Charge (1997) and Reaching for Glory (2001), edited transcriptions of Lyndon B. Johnson's conversations, as captured by his taping system, with historical annotation and commentary. A third Johnson volume is forthcoming.
  • The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945 (2002) was a New York Times bestseller for several months and was Amazon's bestselling history book of the year.
  • Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How they Changed America, 1789-1989 (2007) was a New York Times bestseller for several months and was a #1 Washington Post bestseller.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (2011), introduced and annotated by Beschloss, was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Beschloss is also the editor of Washington by Meg Greenfield (2001) and Essays in Honor of James MacGregor Burns (with Thomas Cronin) (1988).

President Bill Clinton told People in December 1997 that the first audiobook he ever listened to was Taking Charge by Michael Beschloss.[13] In Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, President George W. Bush is quoted as telling the author Elie Wiesel in February 2003, "I read your views on Auschwitz in Michael Beschloss' book", referring to The Conquerors.[14] Bush also refers to Beschloss' book "Presidential Courage" in his 2010 memoir Decision Points.[15]

John Frankenheimer's last film, Path to War (HBO, 2002), starring Donald Sutherland and Michael Gambon, was based in part on Beschloss' two books on Lyndon B. Johnson.


  1. "Michael Beschloss". illinoisauthors.org. Illinois Center for the Book/Illinois State Library. Retrieved 2011-08-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. AP, November 20, 2013
  3. nytimes.com/upshot
  4. New York Times, January 28, 1987, and July 25, 1991.
  5. C-SPAN, "Booknotes", June 21, 1991.
  6. http://snl.jt.org/imp.php?i=1551
  7. @BeschlossDC, Twitter.
  8. http://techland.time.com/2013/03/25/140-best-twitter-feeds-of-2013/slide/michael-beschloss/
  9. "Supporters, Partners, Board". Resources for Inner City Children. Retrieved 2011-08-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Washington Post, February 6, 1998.
  11. Washington Post, November 10, 2000.
  12. Washington Post, November 3, 2005.
  13. People, December 29, 1997.
  14. Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 320
  15. George W Bush, Decision Points, pp. 121-122.

External links