Jay Winik

Jay Winik

Historian-in-residence, CFR

Jay Winik, regarded as “one of the nation’s leading public historians” (the Baltimore Sun), is renowned for his gifted and creative approaches to history, as well as for pioneering the genre of major turning points in history.  In the New York Times distinguished historian Joseph Ellis called the award-winning writer Winik, a “born storyteller.”

His last three books, April 1865, The Great Upheaval, and 1944, have all been critically acclaimed, New York Times bestsellers. His April 1865 was hailed as “brilliant… Epic” by theNew York Times, and “magnificent” by the Wall Street Journal and was regarded as an instant classic. It was a number #1 bestseller, known around the world, and turned into an award-winning TV special on the history Channel watched by more than 50 million people. His most recent book 1944 stimulated a broad national conversation about morality and foreign-policy; Time magazine called it “haunting,” and NBC called it “monumental.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal deemed The Great Upheaval “remarkable.” Winik has received rave reviews for his work and/or has been written up in such diverse places as theWall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek, the New York Review of Books, and elsewhere.

As an historian, Winik has uniquely stood at the nexus of history and public policy. He has been widely consulted by presidents of both parties, the vice president, senators, Cabinet officers, and Supreme Court justices, for his insights into lessons from history on current foreign policy issues. President Bill Clinton, an avid fan, has given copies of April 1865 as gifts and discussed his works with Winik, while President George W. Bush carried April 1865with him to Camp David following the 9/11 attacks, and had Winik into the White House for one-on-one meals and discussions. Winik appears on page one of the president’s memoirs. Winik’s readers and fans also include such celebrities as Jamie Lee Curtis and former baseball superstar Mike Piazza. The Wall Street Journal chose April 1865 as the first book that President Obama should read for his second term, and Winik has spoken with majority leaders of both parties, recently having dinner with the Senate leadership and committee chairs to discuss his work. Winik covered both the Trump and Obama inaugurations on TV as an historian and he was an historical advisor to the National Geographic networks, including on their epic six part series in the 1980s, aired in over one hundred countries. A frequent radio and TV commentator, he has regularly appeared in all the major media outlets, from NPR to Fox News, the PBS news hour, the Today Show, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Morning Joe, C-SPAN, Booknotes, the Charlie Rose show, among many other places.

He is currently a commissioner on the blue-chip commission Countering Violent Extremism, which is chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He has been a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal book review section, as well as to the New York Times.

Born in Connecticut, Winik is an honors graduate of Yale College, and holds an MSc with distinction from the London School of Economics, and a PhD from Yale. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an elected Fellow of the Society of American Historians, and serves or served on the governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a presidential appointment, as well as the boards for American Heritage magazine and the journal World Affairs. He is also or has been a trustee or advisory board member for Ford’s Theatre, National History Day, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation, the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Potomac School, among numerous other places, and is a nominator for the largest humanities prize in the world.