John Patrick Diggins

John Patrick Diggins (April 1, 1935 – January 28, 2009) was a professor of history at the City University of New York Graduate Center, the author of more than a dozen books on widely varied subjects in American intellectual history.


Diggins was born in San Francisco on April 1, 1935, the son of an Irish immigrant.

Diggins received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1957, a master's from San Francisco State College and a doctorate in 1964 at the University of Southern California. He was an assistant professor at San Francisco State College from 1963 to 1969, an associate professor and professor at the University of California, Irvine and was hired in 1990 as a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center.[1]

Diggins’s three marriages ended in divorce. A resident of Manhattan, he died on January 28, 2009 from colorectal cancer. He was survived by his companion of 15 years, Elizabeth Harlan, a son and daughter, two sisters and two grandchildren.[1]

Diggins held for a time the Chair in American Civilization at the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris and was a visiting professor at Cambridge and Princeton University. His Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America won the 1972 Dunning Prize.

Diggins was also a consultant on some films and documentaries, including: "Between the Wars"; "Reds"; "John Dos Passos"; "The Greenwich Village Rebellion"; " Emma Goldman"; "The New York Intellectuals"; " The Future of the American left"; and "Il Duce, Fascismo e American" (Italian Television).

Diggins's interests ranged from the foundations of the United States to the postmodern world. "He declared Ronald Reagan to be "one of the two or three truly great presidents in history.”[1][2]

An obituary reported that Diggins "was “critical of the anticapitalist Left for seeing in the abolition of property an end to oppression” but also “critical of the antigovernment Right for seeing in the elimination of political authority the end of tyranny and the restoration of liberty."[3]


In a review of Diggins's Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review wrote,

"Diggins seems blinded by Reagan’s sunniness, which, in this interpretation, was not just a matter of temperament, but reflective of a deep philosophical and religious conviction. Reagan, Diggins maintains, sought to rid “America of a God of judgment and punishment.” This is absurd. Reagan had a charitable view of human nature and a relaxed, nonjudgmental air, but there is no denying his deeply felt social conservatism. He wrote — as a sitting president, no less — the anti-abortion tract “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.”"[4]


Journal articles


External links

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