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On a cold winter morning on January 30th in 1912 a baby girl was born to the proud parents of Maurice and Alma Wertheim. Her name was Barbara. She would someday come to be known as Barbara Tuchman, narrative historian and writer.
Barbara was born into a comfortable home in New York, New York. She had a middle class up bringing and both her mother and father came from distinguished families. They also were probably well off because of her fathers great success in business. Barbara's father Maurice was at some point President of the American Jewish Committee as well as a Philanthropist, a baker and a publisher. He published many magazines one of which was The Nation. Which he purchased as it was going bankrupt in 1935. Barbara's grandfather Henry Morgenthau Sr., Maurice's father, worked and served as an ambassador to Turkey, and her uncle Henry Morgenthau Jr., Maurice's brother, was Secretary of the Treasury for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Barbara had two sister's Josephine and Anne, and their family had seven servants.
Barbara first experienced World War I when she was only two years old, she was of course too young to remember. While journeying with her parents on a ship to Constantinople to visit her grandfather, two German water vessels and a British warship exchanged shots. Barbara had a good upbringing. All through out her childhood she loved reading and did a lot of it. She could spend hours on end reading her favorite books over and over again. This love for reading started a spark in her heart that would one day lead to her love for not only writing history but for history itself.
She attended The Walden School, which was established in 1914 and is still today a functioning school. In fact a well known celebrity Matthew Broderick also attended and graduated from there. Barbara graduated in 1930 when she was 18. She then went on to attend college at and received her BA at Radcliffe College. She didn't actually receive any academic education as a historian but had always been interested in history. The honor thesis that she wrote at Radcliffe was actually titled "The Moral Justification for the British Empire"
The same year Barbara graduated from Radcliffe she had the opportunity to travel with her grandfather to the World Economic Conference in London in 1933, soon after she started working as a research assistant at the Institute of Pacific Relations in New York and Tokyo.
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Barbara had many opportunities to travel to Europe as a journalist. In 1937 she had the opportunity to work as a correspondent for the Nation in Spain and report directly on the civil war. Reflecting on her time spent writing and observing the events in Spain during the war she began to feel strongly that the United States should have intervened or helped in some way. Barbara then put out her first book The Lost British Policy after the Spanish lost their civil war which Barbara saw as the end of the Liberal world. This is when she really began to be interested in the military and decided that she wanted to write about it and its history.
On June 18, 1940 she married Dr. Lester Reginald Tuchman, who was at the time president of the medical board of City Hospital in Queens and attending physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. They had 3 daughters. Barbara took being a wife and mother very seriously and didn't work again until 1943. For 2 years Barbara took some time away from her homemaking duties to work as an editor of the Office of War Information, which dealt with Far Eastern affairs.
Barbara then picked up writing again when her children were older. The Bible and
the Sword was published in 1956. This book was mostly about her thoughts and feelings towards the happenings between Britain and Palestine. She had strong ties and connection to her Jewish heritage and so had great empathy for those who were suffering. Her next book, The Zimmerman Telegram was published in 1958. She wrote this from only primary sources. In it she wrote about the intense political and diplomatic changes brought around by a cable sent by the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman, to the Imperial German Minister in Mexico in January 1917. The telegram schemed an alliance between the Germans and the Mexicans, and in return the would arrange for territorial reassignments, (basically the taking over) of the Southwestern United States.
Barbara is best known for one of her Pulitzer Prize award winners The Guns of August published in 1962. This famous book captured the attention and the hearts of all readers. Anyone from historians to plain folk enjoyed her style of writing. It became a bestseller in hard back as well as paper and was sold all throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. It peaked the interest of many and drew readers into the history of World War I and brought about such a commotion that a Hollywood motion film was made. Even President J.F. Kennedy was interested in it and passed it onto the Prime minister when he was visiting.
When writing Guns of August Barbara actually went to Germany and followed to path that the original war took place, carefully following previously recorded material as to where the battles were fought and the camps were made. She did face to face, person to person interviews with many people there and around the areas she visited. After this most of her time was spent hidden up in the New York Public and the New York Society Libraries going through every book, journal, article and piece of primary evidence she could get her hands on. The process took 2 full years of researching, writing and rwriting. Barbara's hard work paid off and people loved it! Some have said it will be or already consider it to be a historical classic.
Sometime during or shortly after Barbara's book Guns of Augusts she became separated and then divorced her husband Dr. Lester Reginald Tuchman. Barbara continued researching and writing she did several articles. Barbara's second Pulitzer Prize came from the biography of U.S. General Joseph Stilwell in 1971. She describes the relationship between 20th century China and the United States during the war experiences of General Stilwell during 1911-1945.