In Memoriam

L. Carl Brown (1928–2020)

Photo of Carl Brown

L. Carl Brown, Garrett Professor in Foreign Affairs, Emeritus, and Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, passed away in Mitchellville, Maryland, on April 8, 2020 at the age of 91, just two weeks before his 92nd birthday. A historian of the modern Middle East and North Africa, Brown was born in Mayfield, Kentucky on April 22, 1928, to Leon Carl and Gwendolyn (Travis) Brown. Following service in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1945–46, he attended Vanderbilt, receiving his B.A. in 1950. He then attended the University of Virginia for a year and then spent another year at the London School of Economics, earning an M.A. from the University of Virginia. Brown worked six years for the State Department, serving as a Foreign Service officer in Beirut, Lebanon (1954–55), and in Khartoum, Sudan (1956–58).

Leaving the Foreign Service, Brown entered the Ph.D. program in History  and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, completing the degree in 1962. From 1961 to 1966 he was an assistant professor at Harvard, and in 1966 he joined Princeton’s Department of Oriental Studies as an associate professor with responsibility for modern Middle East history, especially that of the Arab states and North Africa. On February 1, 1969, he assumed the duties of the director of the interdisciplinary Program in Near Eastern Studies, a position that he would occupy for seventeen of the next twenty-four years. Later, on July 1, 1969, he began a four-year term as chair of the department. He was appointed Professor beginning July 1, 1970, and named to the Garrett Professorship in Foreign Affairs. During his twenty-seven years at Princeton before he retired in 1993, Brown earned the respect of his faculty colleagues as a valued colleague, mentor, and administrator.

“I learnt most of what I know about the modern history of the Middle East from Carl,” said Michael Cook, the Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies. “In my second year on the Princeton faculty, he grabbed me in the corridor and pressed me to precept for his course on international relations in the Middle East. I was too green to refuse, and spent the semester scrambling desperately to absorb his lectures and the reading in time to hold my end up in the precept.

Fortunately, his lectures were very clear, organized and insightful, and I owe it to Carl that at the end of the course one of my students ended a rather mixed evaluation of my teaching with the ill-founded observation ‘but he does know his stuff.’ One thing all this illustrates is Carl’s intense sense of duty—a sense that he unthinkingly expected his colleagues to share. If there was ever the Protestant ethic incarnate, he was it.”

“The late Professor Brown was the ‘dean’ of North African studies in the U.S.,” said M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, the Garrett Professor in Foreign Affairs and Professor of Near Eastern Studies. “He was a beloved colleague, caring and inspiring teacher, and prolific scholar who taught several generations of students at major institutions of learning in the United States. As a leading scholar in his field, he touched the minds of so many who follow in his footsteps. He contributed to many subfields of Middle Eastern history with many books, edited volumes, translations and pioneering articles ranging from Tunisian history to Islamic constitutionalism and from the Afro-Asian successors of the Ottoman Empire to diplomacy in the modern Middle East.”

“Carl was in my introductory Turkish class, my first class at Princeton in 1984–1985,” wrote Erika Gilson, retired Senior Lecturer in Turkish. “He was a very determined student but eventually wrote to explain that he could not keep up because of—well, because of all the other things he was taking care of. All along, he was insistent that language learning was an essential component of the Department. He was very supportive of my efforts throughout the years for which I was always very grateful. A wonderful gentleman—may he rest in peace.”

His students from all stages of his career—Harvard, Princeton’s NES Department and Program, and retirement—praise Brown as a teacher and mentor. Frederick Anscombe (NES Ph.D. 1994) wrote that “what made him such a superb teacher and supervisor, in my view, was his skill in getting the best out of students. He had an excellent sense of when to push them (and how hard), and when to give them a bit more space. Through close questioning, and equally close attention in listening, he gauged pretty well what our strengths and weaknesses were, and in guiding us he appreciated, would play to, our strengths, while also trying to help us grapple with our weaknesses.”

Charles Bashara (NEP M.A. 1985), a Program in Near Eastern Studies student under Brown, wrote that Brown, “always a true gentleman, … was laser focused on the beauty and merits of scholarship and the wellbeing of his students.

“Carl was my advisor. I loved him. Less as his advisee and ever more as I grew older and wiser. He was a very good man: fair, honest, and conscientious. He held himself to the same standards he held everyone else,” wrote Michael Doran (NES Ph.D. 1997). “I owe him an enormous amount. He gave me unfailingly good advice, and I wish I had listened to more of it.”

Arthur Goldschmidt remembered “Carl Brown as a lucid lecturer and a caring adviser during my days as a very callow Harvard graduate student.”

Another 1997 NES Ph.D., Joshua Landes, contributed, “Carl Brown, my Ph.D. adviser, had a large impact on my education and learning. He was a central figure in the NES department. Always honorable and the gentleman; he did everything in his power to preserve fairness, whether in apportioning its ample munificence to students or explaining responsibility in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He set an example in his wisdom and leadership.”

Richard Macken (NES Ph.D. 1973) wrote, “I had the privilege of being a student of Carl Brown first at Harvard and later at Princeton, where I wrote a dissertation on his beloved Tunisia. He was unfailingly helpful and insightful in guiding my research. It is an honor to have known this outstanding scholar.

Kenneth James Perkins, also a 1973 NES Ph.D., recalled that “It was my colossal good fortune to have him take me on as an advisee … . In his graduate reading and writing seminars, Carl was an exacting taskmaster. He did not hesitate to convey his frank, sometimes brutal assessment if one fell short of the mark, but he was generous in offering suggestions to keep such an outcome from becoming habitual. The years that I spent under his tutelage taught me volumes about the Middle East and North Africa, but, perhaps more importantly, they taught me how to be a responsible member of the profession. … Carl Brown was my mentor, friend, colleague, and occasionally my squash opponent. For all that, and more, I will always remember him with affection and respect.”

Heather Sharkey, who earned her Ph.D. in History in 1998 and was a NEP student, credited Brown with having “a lasting impact on my scholarship and on my professional approach to the field. … He was a role model in his scholarship and teaching—so impeccably professional—and he gave steadfast support in recommendation letters when I was applying for jobs. I have tried to ‘pay it forward’ in the way I support my own students and colleagues.”

The esteem in which Brown’s colleagues and students held him is evidenced in two honors. In 1998, he received the Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award, which “recognizes exceptional contributions retired faculty have made to the education and training of others.” In 2013, the American Institute for Maghrib Studies established the Annual L. Carl Brown AIMS Book Prize for books that reflect “the innovative intellectual achievements in North African studies exemplified by … L. Carl Brown.”

In addition to these honors, Brown was named a Distinguished Visiting Professor, American University in Cairo (1973–74), and an honorary faculty member of the Armed Forces Staff College, National Defense University, Norfolk, VA (1984). He also received grants from the Fulbright-Hays Program (1967–68), SSRC, Hoover Institution, and the Indo-American Fellowship Program for a research visit to India (1979–80), the Institute of Turkish Studies Travel/Research (1984), and again SSRC (1984). He was the Princeton recipient of support under the USIS Program of Faculty exchange between the University of Crete and Princeton’s Committee on Hellenic Studies, and in summer 1985 he was a participant in the CASA III/Professors of History and Social Science Refresher Course in Arabic, Cairo.

Brown wrote, contributed to, edited, or translated fifteen books, five of which appeared after he retired, as well as numerous articles and book reviews. His monographs were: The Tunisia of Ahmad Bey, 1837–1855 (Princeton University Press, 1974), International politics and the Middle East: Old Rules, Dangerous Game (Princeton University Press, 1984), and Religion and State: The Muslim Approach to Politics (Columbia University Press, 2000). He was also a contributing author to Charles Micaud’s Tunisia: The Politics of Modernization (F.A. Praeger, 1964) and interviewed the U.S. diplomat John S. Badeau for the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University (1979), a memoir with the title The Reminiscences of John Badeau. He edited State and Society in Independent North Africa (Middle East Institute, 1966), From Madina to Metropolis: Heritage and Change in the Near Eastern City (Darwin Press, 1973), with Norman Itzkowitz Psychological Dimensions of Near Eastern Studies (Darwin Press, 1977), Centerstage: American Diplomacy since World War II (Holmes & Meier, 1990), with Cyril E. Black Modernization in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire and Its Afro-Asian Successors (Darwin Press, 1992), Imperial Legacy: The Ottoman Imprint on the Balkans and the Middle East (Columbia University Press, 1996), with Matthew S. Gordon Franco-Arab Encounters: Studies in Memory of David C. Gordon (American University of Beirut, 1996), and Diplomacy in the Middle East: The International Relations of Regional and Outside Powers (I.B. Tauris, 2001). He translated from the Arabic, introduced, and annotated Khayr al-Dīn Tūnisī’s The Surest Path: The Political Treatise of a Nineteenth-Century Muslim Statesman: A Translation of the Introduction to The Surest Path to Knowledge Concerning the Condition of Countries by Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi (Distributed for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies of Harvard University by Harvard University Press, 1967) and Aḥmad Ibn Abī al-Ḍiyāf’s Consult Them in the Matter: A Nineteenth-Century Islamic Argument for Constitutional Government: The Muqaddima (Introduction) to Ithaf ahl al-zaman bi akhbar muluk Tunis wa ʻahd al-aman (Presenting Contemporaries the History of the Rulers of Tunis and the Fundamental Pact) (University of Arkansas Press, 2005), for which Brown won the 2005 Arkansas Arabic Translation Award from the University of Arkansas Press and the university’s King Fahd Center of Middle East and Islamic Studies. He also created, produced, and hosted a series of five television documentaries on selected international issues entitled World & Time for New Jersey Network (June 1985).

Brown’s career defined the concept “service to the profession.” He served as vice-president and president (1975–76) of MESA, a member of MESA’s Board of Directors, vice-president of the American Institute of Maghrib Studies, and treasurer of the American Research Center in Egypt. He was a member of boards too numerous to mention here, served on various committees, including visiting committees to several academic institutions, and fulfilled editorial roles with World Politics, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Studies, and Middle East Journal.

Brown was a strong advocate of outreach efforts, and again he set an outstanding example. Brown spoke to Princeton alumni groups, high school students and teachers, college professors, and local groups, and at adult schools. He lectured at military colleges, to Foreign Service and USIS officers and testified at Congress. He utilized media to reach additional audiences, appearing on TV and radio shows and writing Op-Eds.

Perhaps Brown’s most enduring outreach legacy is the Program’s weekly Brown Bag Lunch Series of talks. Generations of audiences owe him gratitude for his revival in 1977 of the weekly format at which attendees brought  what they wished to eat, with beverages and simple dessert provided, while a speaker introduced in fifteen–twenty minutes a topic for examination, followed by forty minutes of lively discussion.

Brown continued to be active in his retirement. In addition to publishing the five books noted above, he gave public lectures, including this one in 2004 to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs available on youtube. After moving to Collington, a retirement community, he gave talks about the Middle East and showed movies, including Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers to the other residents.

Perhaps the final words should be this tribute from his Program colleagues given in the 1992–93 Program Annual Report: “L. Carl Brown, who served as director of the Program in Near Eastern Studies for 17 years and Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Studies for four years retired in June 1993. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his years of dedication and service to the Program in Near Eastern Studies. He symbolized the highest ideals: honesty, integrity, and hard-work. He set a standard which few attain and to which many aspire.”

Brown is survived by his sons, Jefferson Travis Brown and Joseph Winchester Brown, and six grandchildren. His wife, Anne, died in 2017, and their daughter, Elizabeth Boone Brown, died in 2009.

Norman Itzkowitz (1931–2019)

Photo of Norman ItzkowitzNorman Itzkowitz, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, passed away on January 20, 2019, at the age of 87. Itzkowitz was born in 1931 on the Lower East Side of New York. He attended Stuyvesant High School and the City College of New York, graduating in 1953 with a major in history—winning the Cromwell Medal in History—and varsity letters in lacrosse and fencing. Following the advice of his advisor, Hans Kohn, he entered Princeton’s Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures that fall to study Persian, but he “soon found the field of Turkish studies embodied in the person of [his] mentor Lewis V. Thomas much more attractive.” In 1958 Itzkowitz joined the faculty of the Departments of History and Oriental Languages and Literatures as an instructor and the following year completed his dissertation, “Mehmed Raghib Pasha: The Making of an Ottoman Grand Vezir.” In 1961 he was hired as an assistant professor in the just renamed Department of Oriental Studies, in 1966 he was promoted to associate professor, and in 1973 he achieved the rank of professor.  In addition to his teaching, Itzkowitz served as the Master of Wilson College, a residential college, from 1975 to 1989, on the Committee on Undergraduate Life, and as a faculty advisor to the fencing and lacrosse teams. He also directed numerous NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for elementary, secondary, and college teachers. In 2001 Itzkowitz retired from teaching and joined the ranks of the emeritus professors.

Itzkowitz was the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, including a Buitoni Scholarship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a Carnegie Teaching Fellowship, a Proctor and Gamble Fellowship, two US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Near East Central Grants for Study Abroad, an SSRC Travel Grant, a Littauer Foundation Fellowship, and a Center for International Studies Fellowship.

One of the few scholars of that time working on eighteenth-century Ottoman history, Itzkowitz’s most influential piece of scholarship was his article “Eighteenth Century Ottoman Realities,” which appeared in Studia Islamica 16 (1962). One piece of advice that Itzkowitz often gave to graduate students was to find the biggest plate glass window and throw a brick through it. In “Eighteenth Century Ottoman Realities,” Itzkowitz took aim at Albert H. Lybyer’s definition (1913) of the Ruling and Muslim Institutions of the Ottoman empire, a thesis that argued that the military/administrative elite of the Ottoman empire was dominated by Christian converts to Islam and that the Muslim Institution was filled with Muslim-born individuals. Accepted by Arnold Toynbee and, more importantly, with some reservations  by H. A. R. Gibb and H. Bowen in their major work Islamic Society and the West (1950, 1957), the Lybyer thesis dominated the field for half a century until its underpinnings were shattered by Itzkowitz’s prosopographic research into eighteenth-century (and earlier) Ottoman career lines. According to Zachary Lockman (’74), “Eighteenth Century Ottoman Realities” establishes Itzkowitz as one of the first American critics of Orientalism.

Itzkowitz’s pioneering work in Ottoman prosopography was a significant contribution to the field of Ottoman studies and resulted in three additional articles: “‘Kimsiniz Bey Efendi,’ or A Look at Tanzimat through Namier-colored Glasses” (1969), “The Office of Şeyh ül-Islâm and the Tanzimat—A Prosopographic Enquiry” (1972, with his student Joel Shinder), and “Men and Ideas in the Eighteenth Century Ottoman Empire” (1977).

A second major contribution occurred in the field of psychohistory, an outgrowth of Itzkowitz’s interest in psychoanalysis. Having trained at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis to become a lay analyst, he started a long-time collaboration with Vamik Volkan of the Psychiatry Department at the University of Virginia Medical School, which resulted in three books: The Immortal Atatürk: A Psychobiography (1984); Turks and Greeks: Neighbors in Conflict (1994); and Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography (1997). He also edited with L. Carl Brown Psychological Dimensions of Near Eastern Studies (1981).

In addition to these books, Itzkowitz wrote, edited, or translated a number of other works in Ottoman studies. Many a student has read his excellent short introduction to Ottoman history, Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition, which has remained in print since its publication in 1973. His collaboration with Russian specialist Max Mote resulted in Mubadele: An Ottoman-Russian Exchange of Ambassadors (1970), a work that offered a new perspective on the eighteenth-century diplomatic procedures of the two countries. Following the death of Lewis V. Thomas, Itzkowitz edited and revised his mentor’s Elementary Turkish (1967) and A Study of Naima (1972). He was also a co-translator of Halil İnalcık’s The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300–1600 (1973).

Finally, note should be made of five works for young readers that he co-authored with Enid Goldberg: Genghis Khan: 13th-Century Mongolian Tyrant (2008); Grigory Rasputin: Holy Man or Mad Monk? (2009); Tomas de Torquemada: Architect of Torture (2007); Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula (2009), all in the Scholastic Books Wicked History series; and The Balkans: Ethnic Conflict, a study kit for high school students (2000).

Norman is survived by his wife of 65 years, Leonore, his son Jay and his wife Pria Chatterjee, his daughter Karen and her husband A. Norman Redlich, and four granddaughters.


Bernard Lewis (1916–2018)

Bernard Lewis speaking at a Brown Bag Lunch, 2009

Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, passed away Saturday, May 19, in Voorhees Township, NJ, at the age of 101. Lewis, who came to Princeton in 1974 with a joint appointment as Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Long-term Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, was born in London in 1916. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of London in 1936 and, following a year at the University of Paris, his Ph.D. also from the University of London in 1939. Appointed an Assistant Lecturer in Islamic History at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1938 and Lecturer in 1940, Lewis then served in the British Army and British Intelligence during the war years. Returning to SOAS following the war, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in 1946 and Reader in 1947. In 1949 he was named Professor of the History of the Near and Middle East, a position he held until his departure to the United States in 1974. Following his retirement from Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study in 1986, Lewis became Director of the newly founded Annenberg Research Institute, a position he held for four years. During his second retirement, Lewis remained active, publishing sixteen books and over sixty articles and also assuming an increasingly influential role as a public intellectual and advisor to politicians and the U.S. government.

Lewis was the recipient of numerous honors, including The Harvey Prize, the Atatürk Peace Prize, the George Polk Award, the Golden Plate Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Irving Kristol Award, as well as fifteen honorary doctorates. He was named the Tanner Lecturer (Oxford University) and the Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities (NEH), and he gave the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Lecture in 1992.

Lewis published his first book, The Origins of Ismailism, in 1940, and his last book, Notes on a Century in 2012. In between, he wrote or edited forty-eight additional works. These include The Arabs in History (1950, 6th edition 1993), The Emergence of Modern Turkey (1961, 3rd edition 2001), Istanbul and the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire (1963), The Middle East and the West (1964, revised and recast edition published as Shaping of the Modern Middle East, 1993), The Assassins (1967), Race and Color in Islam (1971, revised and expanded edition published as Race and Slavery in the Middle East, 1990), Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople (1974), The Muslim Discovery of Europe (1982), The Jews of Islam (1984), The Political Language of Islam (1988), The Middle East: Two Thousand Years of History from the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day (1995); The Multiple Identities of the Middle East (1998), What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (2002), The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (2003), From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East (2004), and Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East (2010).

His edited works include Historians of the Middle East (1962), The Cambridge History of Islam (1970), The World of Islam (US title; Islam and the Arab World, 1976), and Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire (1982). He also served on the editorial committee of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, for thirty-one years.

Lewis is survived by his longtime partner Buntzie Churchill, a son Michael, a daughter Melanie Dunn, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandsons.