Maurice Isserman received a B.A. in history from Reed College in 1973 and his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Rochester in 1979. Before coming to Hamilton College in 1990 as an assistant professor in the Department of History, he taught at Oberlin, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Williams Colleges. He is a past holder the William R. Kenan and the James L. Ferguson chairs at Hamilton, and is currently the Publius Virgilius Rogers professor of history. During his time at Hamilton he has been awarded a year-long Mellon fellowship at Harvard University, and the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American history at Moscow State University in Russia. He has also done academic exchanges at the University of Sussex and Pembroke College, Oxford University.
Professor Isserman’s regular course offerings at Hamilton include surveys in US history, courses on post-World War II and Sixties America, and an “adventure writing” course for first year students that combines outdoor adventures in the Adirondacks with writing instruction. In the spring of 2011 he introduced a new course on the history of the American Civil War, and in the fall of that year a new research seminar on the history of Hamilton College.
In the three decades since receiving his Ph.D, Professor Isserman has published an average of two scholarly works every decade. His first book, based on his doctoral dissertation, was Which Side Were You On? The American Communist Party During the Second World War, published by Wesleyan University Press in 1982. His second book, If I Had a Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left, was published by Basic Books in 1987. His third book, California Red: The Life of Dorothy Healey, co-authored with Ms. Healey, was published by Oxford University Press in 1990. In 2000 he had two books come out, the first, co-authored with Michael Kazin and published by Oxford University Press, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, and the second, The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington, published by Public Affairs Press. 2008 saw the publication of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Mountaineering to the Age of Extremes, co-authored with Stewart Weaver and published by Yale University Press.
All of these books have been well received critically, and have attracted both an academic and a popular readership. His first six books were all reprinted in paperback editions; one of them, America Divided, is in its fourth revised edition from Oxford University Press and has become the standard text for course adoption in college and university courses on the 1960s. Fallen Giants, was the subject of rave reviews in the Sunday New York Times Book Review and the Times in London. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and is the recipient of the 2008 Banff Book Festival award for best mountaineering history, and the 2008 National Outdoor Book Award for history. In addition, Isserman has published a half dozen histories for secondary school readers, on topics ranging from the Vietnam War to the African-American Great Migration to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
In addition to his scholarly and secondary school books, Isserman regularly publishes op-eds, essays, and book reviews in such prominent national publications as The New York Times, the Nation, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Professor Isserman's most recent book is On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College, published in the fall of 2011.