David Avrom Bell is a historian of modern Europe, with a particular area of expertise in the age of revolutions. He has published six books, most recently The West: A New History, with his colleague Anthony Grafton. He has also published academic articles in both English and French, and contributes regularly to general interest publications on a variety of subjects, ranging from modern warfare, to contemporary French politics, to the impact of digital technology on learning and scholarship, and of course French history. His writings have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Hebrew, Swedish, Polish, Russian, German and Italian. He teaches in the History Department at Princeton University, where he holds the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Chair in the Era of North Atlantic Revolutions, and offers courses on early modern Europe, on military history, and on the early modern French empire. Previously, he spent fourteen years at Johns Hopkins University, including three as Dean of Faculty in its School of Arts and Sciences. In 2020 he will begin a four-year term as Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton.


His current work is a comparative and transnational study of political charisma in the age of revolutions, to be published in mid-2020 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux under the title Men on Horseback: The Power of Charisma in the Age of Revolutions. Other recent projects include an edited volume (co-edited with his colleague Yair Mintzker) entitled Rethinking the Age of Revolutions: France and the Birth of the Modern World, which was published in hardcover and paperback in October, 2018 by Oxford University Press, and which includes an article  from the charisma project. Other recent articles include an essay on the nature of modern warfare for the collective work Une histoire de la guerre (in French), a review essay on the history of liberalism for The New York Review of Books, and an essay about his father, the sociologist Daniel Bell, for Dissent.


In June, 2018 he was a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In academic year 2018-19 he was on leave from Princeton as the John and Constance Birkelund Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. In the summer of 2019 he hosted and co-directed the inaugural session of the Franco-American Graduate Workshop on the History of Early Modern France, at Princeton. 


This website provides information about his books, and links to recent essays, book reviews, research materials, and the books' on-line appendices, plus some videos, and reviews of his work.


A full c.v. can be found here, and an academic genealogy here.


David A. Bell

Sidney and Ruth Lapidus

Professor in the Era of

North Atlantic Revolutions


Department of History


Princeton University



Website updated June 2019