About Me

I am an historian, and my particular area of expertise is Europe in the age of revolutions. I have written three books on the subject, most recently The First Total War, as well as academic articles in both English and French. I also contribute to general interest publications on a variety of subjects, ranging from contemporary French politics, to the relationship between war and society, to the impact of digital technology on learning and scholarship. The majority of this work has appeared in the political and literary magazine The New Republic, for which I have written for thirty years, and where I am a contributing editor. I teach in the History Department at Princeton University, where I offer courses on early modern Europe, on military history, and on the early modern French empire. Previously, I spent fourteen years at Johns Hopkins University, including three as Dean of Faculty in its School of Arts and Sciences.


In collaboration with my Princeton colleague Anthony Grafton I have written a history of Europe, which will be published in 2015 by W.W. Norton. I have also written a short biography of Napoleon Bonaparte which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. I am now working on two further book projects. The first is a comparative and transnational study of charisma, political authority and mlitarism in the age of revolutions. While it is still at an early stage, I have been presenting some of my ideas in invited lectures and conference presentations.  The second is a study of two fascinating, but little known French Revolutionaries: the duc de Biron and Charles-Philippe Ronsin. Although coming from opposite ends of French society, they had strangely parallel careers, as soldiers, men of letters, and revolutionary politicians. They ended up bitter enemies, and both died on the guillotine during the Terror. My most recent academic article came out in French Historical Studies in January and is entitled "Questioning the Global Turn: The Case of the French Revolution."


In 2014-15 I will be on sabbatical leave as one of Princeton's Old Dominion Professors in the Humanities. Among my upcoming speaking engagements, I will be giving the keynote addresses at a conference on identity formation in early modern Europe at Radboud University in Nijmegen in January, and at the UK and Ireland Society for the Study of French History conference in  Scotland next June. I will also be giving the Talmon lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the spring.


This website provides information about my books, and links to recent essays, book reviews, course syllabi, research materials, and the books' on-line appendices.


A full c.v. can be found here


David A. Bell

Sidney and Ruth Lapidus

Professor in the Era of

North Atlantic Revolutions


Department of History


Princeton University