Edward (Ed) Berenson is professor of history and chair of the history department at NYU. Before coming to NYU in 1998, he taught for many years at UCLA.
Berenson is the author or editor of eight books on 19th and 20th century French, British, and U.S. history. Two of his books, *Heroes of Empire* and *The Statue of Liberty* have been translated into French. He has published op-eds in the New York Times and in leading French papers, and he comments for the French media about American politics and public life.
Ed holds a B.A. from Princeton University, a diploma in French language and civilization from the Sorbonne, and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.
In 1999, he received the American Historical Association’s Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2006 he was decorated by former French president Jacques Chirac as “Chevalier dans l’Ordre de Merit.”
My grandfather,Saul Rosenbaum,was a haberdasher,in Massena,during this time period.His business basement was searched,looking for the missing girl.I question your figure of twenty jewish families living in Massena,at the time.It seems like a low figure
Thanks for this, Marty. 20 families, or about 100 people, seems low, but I have multiple sources to confirm it. I have the list of original members of the Massena synagogue, founded in 1919. There were 33 signatories, but several families had more than one member on the list.
I’m not sure if you check these comments, but I wanted to say that you were one of the best professors I ever had. I’m almost 58 now, but I took several of your French Revolution classes as an undergrad at UCLA in the early 1980s, and learned an enormous amount about a subject that I never knew I’d enjoy so much. I went on to major in History as a result. I looked forward to each of your lectures, and even signed up for a few classes I didn’t even need, just because they were taught so well. So, 40 years later, thanks for being such a wonderful, insightful, and entertaining teacher!
Hi John, I don’t check this website as often as I should, but your lovely comment landed in my email inbox. Thank you so much for these kind words; you’ve made my day. I moved from UCLA to NYU almost 23 years ago and have been at NYU ever since. Still teaching and writing history after all these years. I’ve had the good fortune to split my career between LA and NYC. Are you in CA, or elsewhere? Thanks again.
I am still in CA, moved to San Diego after I graduated in ‘86, and my wife of 34 years and I have lived here ever since. Good to know you’re still teaching and writing! I was doing some unrelated research online the other day, and I saw your name attached to a video from the Pell Center on my Youtube sidebar. I clicked on it, wondering if it was the same Edward Berenson from my UCLA days, and of course it was. Same delivery, same style, same understated passion for the topic. The video was an interview, but you were also educating, exactly the way a good teacher would do simply by default. It brought back to mind how much I enjoyed your classes and how much I learned from each one, all of which ultimately led me to switch at the end of my sophomore year from my intended Communications major over to a History major. (I wound up with a kind of double-major in Poli-Sci and History; the two subjects went very well together). There were several good professors and TA’s in the History Department back then (Robert Dallek was another favorite prof of mine, and Lester Golden was an excellent TA), but you belong at the top of the list, and here’s why. I landed in your History 1B class as a freshman, mainly looking to fulfill a lower-division basic requirement, the same way that most of the others in that class probably wound up there. 10 weeks, in and out, get the credit, and move on. Given those common undergrad circumstances, no one would have faulted you for simply “phoning it in.” But you seemed to do the opposite, and gave it everything you had. Each lecture was well-planned, insightful, entertaining, and above all else, highly instructional. I had no idea how interesting the era of the Weimar Republic was until you pointed it out! That motivated me to take another history class of yours (I forget which one, maybe 1C?), with the same result. I finished those courses feeling a lot smarter than I was when I started. Long story cut short, once I began taking upper division courses after changing to a History/Poli-Sci major, I opted for the ones you were teaching, whenever my schedule allowed it. I probably had 5 or 6 total, mostly centered on different aspects of the French Revolution and Alexis de Tocqueville. I recall thinking before I signed up for that first class on the French Revolution of 1789, “hmm, sounds kind of dry and boring, let’s see how he does this.” Well, no surprise, it was riveting, especially the way you drew the parallels between what was happening in France and in post-1776 America. The cool thing was that while I took a lot of notes in those classes, as college students do, I found I only used them peripherally — when it came time to write the term papers, or the midterms and finals, I knew the subject so thoroughly by then that I could just write from memory what I’d learned. That’s the hallmark of a great teacher, and it’s why I figured I’d drop you a note when I saw your video. I’m actually a writer now by profession, albeit in the financial field instead of anything historical, but much of that initial groundwork was laid from writing those Professor Berenson term papers! So keep up the great academic work, and be sure to keep in mind as well that in every class of 50 or 100 undergraduate students, there’s likely more than one anonymous face in there who will discover a new passion for history based on what you’re saying right there at the podium. I sure did. All the best to you! — John Dean
Ed: I just watched Sci on the Statue of Liberty — and there you were. I thought — “Hey, that’s my classmate!” Sorry I missed you last weekend for our 50th get-together. The event was great. Good work on identifying the face of Lady Liberty!
Many thanks for this, Mark. Sorry I missed you and all the others at the reunion event. Sadly, I had plans that couldn’t be changed.