Michael Beschloss, Class of 1977

You were already, at the age of 36, the author of three books when The New York Times called you “one of the leading practitioners of the diminishing art of diplomatic history.” Your first book, Kennedy and Roosevelt: The Uneasy Alliance, a revised version of your Williams senior honors thesis about the relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Kennedy before World War II, was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and met with wide critical acclaim when it was published three years after you graduated. In it, you display the solid scholarship, clarity, and narrative craft that characterize all your writing. Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair, published in 1986 after four years of research, secured your reputation, as one critic said, as “one of the nation’s most promising young historians” and among “the first rank of those researching and writing about the Cold War.” The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963, published in 1991, was described as “easily the best book on Kennedy and the Cold War.” The beneficiary of glasnost, you may at times have wished, while writing The Crisis Years and sifting though some 1,500 books and 100,000 documents, many of them never before available to researchers, that you hadn’t been so lucky. Your latest book, At The Highest Levels, a collaboration with Strobe Talbott about the end of the Cold War, called upon your own diplomatic skills in gaining access to, and the confidence of, many of the principal players so that, as one reviewer said, “with extraordinary speed and confounding success” you produced “an accurate first draft of the Cold War’s last days.” Frequent lecturer and some time teacher, you’ve made your incisive analysis accessible to a much wider audience as a member of that rarest of breeds, a television pundit of both style and substance. In recognition of your distinguished achievement as a political historian, Williams College is proud to present you with its Bicentennial Medal.