Eugene Genovese, 1930-2012

October 1, 2012

Eugene Genovese -- a historian revered for his studies of American slavery and activist known for his political evolution -- died last week. An obituary prepared by his family, as well, as some of the commentary on his death, can be found here. His many books, the best known of which is Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, are considered to have redefined understanding of master-slave relations. His long teaching career included positions at Rutgers University, the University of Rochester and Emory University. At a Vietnam War teach-in at Rutgers, Genovese set off a huge political uproar when he said he would not mind a Viet Cong victory. Early in his career, he was a Marxist and was known as the first such thinker to become president of the Organization of American Historians, a position to which he was elected in 1978. But over time Genovese -- as well as his late wife Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, also a historian and women's studies scholar and co-author of some of his work -- migrated politically and became associated with conservative thinking, becoming heroes to some who once criticized them (and criticized by some who once were fans).

His obituary in The New York Times may be found here. Thoughts on his passing also have appeared in Dissent and Reason.

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