Historian Herbert Parmet Has Passed Away

Historians in the News

Fred Greenbaum is Professor Emeritus of History, Queensborough Community College, CUNY. Robert D. Parmet is a Professor of History at York College, CUNY.

Five months after Herbert Hoover became President of the United States, Herbert S. Parmet was born to immigrant parents in New York City and named for him. Herb would attend the city's public schools, and graduate from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx (1948) before earning a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY College at Oswego (1951) and a Master of Arts degree from Queens College (1957). Afterward, he did graduate work in American history at Columbia University (1957-1962).. In 1948 he married Joan Kronish, who attended Oswego with him and would be wed to him for more than sixty-eight years. The couple taught separately in the New York City area public schools, with Herb eventually teaching on all levels from elementary·to graduate. From 1952 to 1954 Herb served in the U. S.Army.

While teaching in and chairing the social studies department of Mineola High School, New York, in the 1960s, Herb decided to write historical studies. With colleague Marie B. Hecht, he prepared a biography, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious·Man (1967). This was the first scholarly biography of its subject in many years. With this scholarship, and the forthcoming publication of-Never Again, Herb was appointed Assistant  Professor  of  History at Queensborough  Community College, Associate Professor in 1972 and Professor in 1975.  In 1976, he became Professor of History in the Ph.D.

Program of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Subsequently, he became Distinguished Professor at Queensborough. and the Graduate Center. In 1995 he retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

After his biography of Burr, Herb authored ten additional books. With Marie B_. Hecht, he also produced Never Again: A President Runsfor a Third Term: Roosevelt versus Wi/lkie, 1940 (1968). This was followed by a pioneering biography, Eisenhower and the American Crusades (1972). Focusing again on politics, he wrote The Democrats: The Years After FDR (1976). In a return to biography, he authored two volumes, Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy (1980), and JFK: The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (1983). After a corporate history, 200 Years of Looking Ahead: Commemorating the Bicentennial of the Founding of the Bank of New York,1784-1984, he returned to biography with Richard Nixon and His America (1990) and George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee (1997). Forever fascinated by the presidency, he produced Presidential Power from the New Deal to the New Right (2002). His last work was a reassessment of an earlier biographical subject in Richard M. Nixon: An American Enigma (2008).

Herb contributed to the historical profession in many additional areas. By all accounts he was a truly outstanding classroom teacher, dynamic and charismatic. Furthermore, he was a prolific book reviewer, contributor of book chapters, and public speaker. Often a participant in professional conferences, he also made frequent radio and television appearances. He participated in television documentary films, and as an expert witness served the U. S. Department of Justice in litigation against the Richard M. Nixon Foundation and a House of Representatives subcommittee on records pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In brief, Herb produced an amazing body of scholarship and was a major historian of the American presidency and politics. His work work is of the first rank. He wrote with conviction and authority, and will be sorely missed.

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