Robert Paxton


Ph.D. — Harvard University, 1963
M.A. — Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar), 1961
B.A. — Washington and Lee University, 1954

Interests and Research

Robert O. Paxton, Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Science, specializes in the social and political history of Modern Europe, particularly Vichy France during the World War II era. Paxton has worked on two issues within the general area of modern European history: France during the Nazi occupation of 1940-1944; and the rise and spread of fascism. He was the first in the 1960s and 1970s to establish, on the basis of German archives, the active collaboration of Vichy France within Hitler's Europe, a finding received coolly at first in France and now largely accepted. He continues to speak, write, and research in these fields. In 2009 he served as guest curator for an exhibition at the New York Public Library entitled "Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation."

Major Professional Activities

  • Chair, Department of History, Columbia, 1980-1982
  • Expert Witness, war crimes trials of Paul Touvier, Versailles, 1994 and Maurice Papon, Bordeaux, 1997


  • Officier, Légion d'Honneur (France), 2009
  • Honorary Fellow, Merton College, Oxford, 2001
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, American Historical Association, 1999
  • Elected Member, American Philosophical Society, 1999
  • Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1982

Honorary Degrees

  • Washington and Lee University, 1974
  • University of Caen (France), 1994
  • SUNY Stony Brook, 1994
  • University of Lyon II (France), 2003



The Anatomy of Fascism (2004, translated into fourteen languages)

French Peasant Fascism (1996)

Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order (1972, 2nd ed., 2001)

Vichy France and the Jews, with Michael Marrus (1981, 2nd ed. 2019)

Europe in the Twentieth Century (1975, 4th ed. 2004)


Last updated March 30, 2020