|Born||February 20, 1948|
New York City, U.S.
|Occupation||Professor, historian, author|
|Awards||Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (2015)|
David Israel Kertzer (born February 20, 1948) is an American anthropologist, historian, and academic, specializing in the political, demographic, and religious history of Italy. He is the Paul Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Professor of Italian Studies at Brown University. His book The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (2014) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.
David Kertzer's father, Morris Kertzer, was a rabbi. Enlisted in the American army, he took part in the landing of the Allied forces in Italy in early 1944. In April, he presided over an Easter seder for the Jewish troops. He officiated at the funerals of over a hundred Jewish soldiers. On June 4, he entered Rome and met Rabbi Israel Zolli.
David Kertzer graduated from Brown University in 1969. He received his PhD in Anthropology from Brandeis University in 1974, and taught at Bowdoin College until 1992. That year he joined the faculty of Brown University as Professor of Anthropology and History.
Sponsored by the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission, in 1978 he was Senior Lecturer at the University of Catania and in 2000, Chair at the University of Bologna. In 2001, he relinquished his post at Brown as Professor of History and was appointed Professor of Italian Studies. In 2005, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2011, Kertzer served as Provost at Brown.
Kertzer is the author of numerous books and articles on politics and culture, European social history, anthropological demography, 19th-century Italian social history, contemporary Italian society and politics, and the history of Vatican relations with the Jews and the Italian state. His book, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, was a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction in 1997. His The Popes Against the Jews, published in 2001, was subsequently described as "one of the most critically acclaimed and contentious books of its genre and generation." The book analyzes the relation between the development of the Catholic Church and the growth of European anti-Semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries, arguing that the Vatican and several popes contributed actively to fertilizing the ideological ground that produced the Holocaust. The work produced intense discussion among scholars of European history and historians of the Catholic Church.
The follow-up work, The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (2014), examined documentary evidence from the Vatican archives, arguing that Pope Pius XI played a significant role in supporting the rise of Fascism and Benito Mussolini in Italy, but not of Nazi Germany. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in April 2015.