Joel Colton, Who Kept History Current for 50 Years, Dies at 92

Historians in the News

Joel Colton, a historian who for over 50 years helped regularly update a textbook that has introduced generations of college students to modern history, died Sunday at his home in Durham, N. C. He was 92.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Kenneth.

The textbook, “A History of the Modern World,” was written in 1950 by the Princeton historian R. R. Palmer and published by Knopf. Dr. Colton, a professor at Duke University, collaborated with Dr. Palmer on the next nine editions. About 2 million copies have been sold.

McGraw-Hill, the current publisher, said the textbook has been translated into 10 languages and has been used in more than 1,000 colleges, universities and high schools. The 10th edition was published in 2006 with a third contributor, Lloyd Kramer. In 1987, The New York Times included it on a list of 19 textbooks considered classics in their field....

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