William H. McNeill Biography

William H. McNeill (October 31, 1917–July 8, 2016) was born in Canada in 1917, received his PhD from Cornell University in 1947, and served as Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He wrote more than 20 books, of which the most important is The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (Chicago, 1963). His other works include Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1097–1797 (Chicago, 1974); Plagues and Peoples (Garden City, NY, 1976); The Metamorphosis of Greece since 1945 (Chicago, 1978); The Human Condition:: Art Historical and Ecological View (Princeton, 1980); Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force anal Society since 1000 A.D. (Chicago, 1982); and Mythistory and Other Essays (Chicago, 1986). In addition to serving as 1985 president of the American Historical Association, he was vice chairman of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission.


The Greek dilemma; war and aftermath. London: V. Gollancz, 1947.

History handbook of Western civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.

Past and future. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954.

Greece: American aid in action, 1947-1956. New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1957.

The rise of the West; a history of the human community. Drawings by Béla Petheö. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963; Reprint with a retrospective essay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, c1991.

Europe's steppe frontier, 1500-1800, by William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.

Essays in the liberal interpretation of history; selected papers, by Lord Acton. Edited and with an introd. by William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.

A world history, by William H. McNeill. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967; 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

America, Britain, & Russia: their co-operation and conflict, 1941-1946. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970.

The shape of European history, by William H. McNeill. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Venice: the hinge of Europe, 1081-1797, by William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

Plagues and peoples, William H. McNeill. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press, 1976.

Human migration: patterns and policies, edited by William H. McNeill and Ruth S. Adams. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, c1978.

The metamorphosis of Greece since World War II, by William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

The pursuit of power: technology, armed force, and society since A.D. 1000, by William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

The Islâmic world, edited by William H. McNeill and Marilyn Robinson Waldman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983; 1973.

The great frontier: freedom and hierarchy in modern times, by William H. McNeill. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Mythistory and other essays, William H. McNeill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. 

Polyethnicity and national unity in world history, William H. McNeill. Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

The age of gunpowder empires, 1450-1800, by William H. McNeill; with a foreword by Michael Adas. Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 1989.

Arnold J. Toynbee, a life, by William H. McNeill. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Population and politics since 1750, by William H. McNeill. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990.

The human web: a bird's-eye view of world history, J.R. McNeill and William H. McNeill. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.