Publication Date

April 1, 2005

Perspectives Section


Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University has been selected to deliver the 34th Jefferson Lecture. The annual lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is among the highest honors the federal government confers for recognizing achievement in the humanities, and carries a honorarium of $10,000. Kagan, who earlier received the National Humanities Medal, will deliver the lecture on Thursday, May 12, 2005, in Washington, D.C.

Kagan is known for his scholarship on war in the classical world as well as his commentary on the challenges faced by contemporary America. He was a nationally prominent advocate for a core curriculum. He is the author of a celebrated four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War. His recent books include Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy (1991),On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (1995),While America Sleeps: Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today (2000, with Frederick W. Kagan), and The Peloponnesian War (2003), a one-volume history of the war. He has also published numerous articles and commentary in the Wall Street Journal, theNew York Times, and the Public Interest.

Born in Lithuania in 1932, Kagan received his bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, his master's degree in classics from Brown University, and in 1958 his PhD in history from Ohio State University. Before coming to Yale in 1969, Kagan held faculty positions at Pennsylvania State University and Cornell University. From 1988 to 1993, Kagan served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities. He has won numerous awards and fellowships, including four teaching awards at Cornell and Yale.

Attendance at the lecture is by invitation and free. Those interested in receiving an invitation should call (202) 606-8400 or send an e-mail message to

— From the NEH web site

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