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Walter LaFeber
Walter LaFeber

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

March 17, 2006

Prominent historian Walter LaFeber will deliver
W. Bruce Lincoln Endowed Lecture

DeKalb, Ill. — Walter LaFeber, a well-known author and one of the nation's most prominent historians, will visit Northern Illinois University later this month to deliver the second installment of the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowed Lecture Series.

The lecture, titled “Empire: A View of the American Experience from Ben Franklin to George W. Bush,” will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Walter LaFeber is one of the truly great historians of American foreign relations,” said Kenton Clymer, chair of the NIU Department of History. “He has written about the Cold War, Latin America, globalization and even Michael Jordan. No one is better qualified to place our current foreign policy in a broad historical context, and I am just delighted that he has agreed to deliver the second annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture at NIU.”

LaFeber is the Andrew Tisch and James Tisch University Professor at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1959.

He has written and co-authored nearly 20 books, which have won numerous awards. His best known works include “Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism,” “ The Clash: U.S.-Japan Relations Throughout History,” “America, Russia, and the Cold War ” and “ The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860-1898.”

LaFeber also has written dozens of op-ed pieces and essays published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, Newsday, Atlantic Monthly and The Nation. He has made numerous television appearances in PBS series on American history and has been a frequent commentator on radio, from the BBC to the Larry King Show to National Public Radio.

LaFeber's NIU lecture will examine within historical context the current state of the “American empire” and executive authority.

“The lecture will discuss how and why the term 'empire' became so popular and widely used in the United States between 9/11 and the Iraqi invasion in 2003, and why the use of the term at that time marks a significant break from the way it was used by Washington and Jefferson, in the Founders' generation, or by those who again employed the term at the beginning of modern U.S. foreign policy in the 1898 to 1914 era,” LaFeber said. “Then the lecture will look at how Americans' use of ‘empire' has interacted with both their religious beliefs over time and the way the Imperial Presidency has evolved to the present.”

The endowed lecture series is named in honor of the late W. Bruce Lincoln, a world-renowned historian of Russia who taught on the NIU faculty for more than three decades until his retirement in 1998. In 1982, Lincoln was among the first group of NIU faculty members awarded Presidential Research Professorships, an honor bestowed on the university's top scholars.

The recipient of many grants and awards, Lincoln possessed a lifelong passion for learning and a gift for writing. Of the 12 books he authored, several gained a wide audience among the general public. He was one of the last authors to work with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in her role as senior editor at Doubleday Books in New York.