Edward L. Widmer

Edward (Ted) Ladd Widmer (born 1963) is an American historian, writer, librarian, and musician who served as a speechwriter in the Clinton White House.

Ted Widmer obtained an A.B. in the history and literature of France and the United States, an A.M. in history, and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization from Harvard University. At Harvard, he was an editor at the Harvard Lampoon. In 1990, Widmer’s research on the origin of baseball was featured in The New York Times. In 1992 he married Mary Frederica Rhinelander, a printmaker and figurative artist. Widmer was appointed lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University from 1993 until 1997. From 1995 until 1997 he played guitar and vocals in a Boston hard rock band, the Upper Crust.

From 1997 to 2001, he worked in the White House as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, foreign policy speech writer and Senior Advisor for Special Projects, which involved advising on history and scholarship related issues. He later conducted extensive interviews with Clinton while the former president was writing his autobiography.

Books in order of publication:


Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (1999) (winner of the 2001 Washington Irving Prize)

Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races (2001) (co-author with Alan Brinkley)

Martin Van Buren (2004)

Ark of the Liberties: America and the World (2008) (a history of U.S. foreign policy)

Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy (2012) (co-author with Caroline Kennedy)

Brown: The History of an Idea (2015)

New York Times: Disunion: A History of the Civil War (2016) (co-editor with Clay Risen and George Kalogerakis)

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington (2020) (winner of The Lincoln Forum Book Prize in 2020)

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