David Fromkin, 1932 – 2017

Pardee Center Founding Director Prof. David Fromkin passed away in June 2017 at age 84. Obituaries were published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and BU Today.

Senior Research Fellow
Professor, International Relations, History, and Law, Boston University


BA, JD, University of Chicago; Postgraduate Diploma in Law, University of London


International relations, international law, Middle East politics

David Fromkin


Professor Fromkin was the founding director of the Pardee Center (2000–2007) and also served as the chair of the Department of International Relations at Boston University for three years. He spent most of his professional life as a practitioner attorney and a private investor. He served as the head of foreign policy for Hubert Humphrey in the 1972 presidential primary campaign. Additionally, he served for three years as a first lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Army, stationed in Verdun, France, where he was a trial observer in French courts pursuant to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. As prosecutor and defense counsel, he fought more than one hundred contested courts-martial. He began his civilian career as an associate of the Wall Street law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett.

After a varied career in law, business, and politics, Prof. Fromkin turned to writing works of history and studies of world politics. His shorter pieces have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and other publications. He was the author of seven books, including: The Question of Government: An Inquiry into the Breakdown of Modern Political Systems (1975), The Independence of Nations (1981), and In the Time of the Americans: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur, The Generation That Changed America’s Role in the World (1995). His 1989 book, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 19141922 (1989), was a national bestseller, chosen by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the dozen best books of the year, and shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, published in March 2004, was Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?