William H McNeill, prize-winning world historian, dead at 98

13mcneill-obit-1-blog427William H McNeill, an award-winning world historian and author, has died in Torrington, Connecticut, at age 98. His death was confirmed by Steve Koppes, associate news director at the University of Chicago, where McNeill was a professor emeritus.

William Hardy McNeill (born October 31, 1917) was a Canadian-American world historian and author, particularly noted for his writings on Western civilization. He was Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago where he has taught since 1947. He was the father of historian J. R. McNeill with whom he co-authored The Human Web: A Bird’s-eye View of World History.

William Hardy McNeill’s Life, Work and career

  • William McNeill was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the son of theologian and educator John T. McNeill.
  • He was educated at the University of Chicago, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in 1938, and Master of Arts (M.A.) in 1939. In 1941 he was drafted into the S. army and served in World War II in the European theater. 
  • McNeill’s most popular work, completed early in his career, is “The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (University of Chicago Press, 1963). The book explored world history in terms of the effect of different old world civilizations on one another, and especially the dramatic effect of Western civilization on others in the past 500 years. 
  • McNeill was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama on February 25, 2010.

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