Peter Baldwin

Peter Baldwin

Peter Baldwin

Distinguished Research Professor


Office: 7240 Bunche Hall

Phone: 310-396-0108

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Peter Baldwin has written widely on the comparative historical development of the modern state, across Europe and the US.

He has attempted to understand contemporary issues in historical perspective, whether that be the class coalitions that cemented the modern welfare state, the 19C public health strategies that provided the template by which the AIDS and Covid epidemics were fought a century later, the long-standing battles over intellectual property that inform our current disputes over copyright, downloading, internet piracy, and open access, or the ever-growing role of law as the socializer of last resort in modern society.

He is also Global Distinguished Professor at NYU, as well as chair of the board of the Center for Jewish History in NY.   He serves on the boards of the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wikimedia Endowment, the Central European University, and the Danish Institute of Advanced Studies.

His journalistic writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesCNNNewsweekNew RepublicHuffington PostDer SpiegelBerliner ZeitungPublishers WeeklyChronicle of Higher EducationProspectTimes Higher EducationAmerican Interest, and Zocalo Public Square.

Field of Study



Comparative history of modern Europe and the United States.


Athena Unbound: Why and How Academic Knowledge Should Be Free for All (MIT Press, 2023) (click for pdf)

Command and Persuade: Crime, Law, and the State across History (MIT Press) (click for pdf)

Fighting the First Wave: Why the Coronavirus Was Tackled So Differently across the Globe (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle (Princeton University Press 2014) (click for pdf)

The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe Are Alike (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Disease and Democracy: The Industrialized World Faces AIDS (University of California Press, Berkeley, and the Milbank Memorial Fund, New York, 2005)

Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975 (Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Reworking the Past: Hitler, the Holocaust and the Historians’ Debate, edited with an introduction (Beacon Press, 1990)


  • PhD History Department, Harvard University, 1986
  • MA  History Department, Harvard University, 1980
  • BA  Philosophy Department, History Department, Yale University, 1978