David A. Bell

Councilor, Research

David A. Bell is a historian of modern Europe, with a particular focus on revolutionary and Napoleonic France. He was born in New York in 1961, and grew up there and in Boston. After graduating from Harvard, he studied in France and worked as a reporter in Washington, before heading to Princeton for graduate work. He has written books on the politicization of the legal profession in 18th-century France, on the origins of nationalism in 18th-century France, and on the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars as “the first total war,” plus a short biography of Napoleon and an essay collection. Since 2010 he has been back at Princeton. Before that, he taught at Yale and Johns Hopkins, where he served for three years as dean of faculty. He enjoys writing short essays and reviews for general interest publications, and for many years was a contributing editor of The New Republic. He has been delighted to serve on Council, and has been particularly interested to work on issues involving the profession’s relation to the general public, the way digital technology has affected historical research and writing, and the impact of political and social change on the structure of the profession—particularly the job market.