Melvyn Paul Leffler (born May 31, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American historian and educator, currently Edward Stettinius Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Bancroft Prize for his book A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration and the Cold War, and the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize for his book For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War.
The son of businessman Louis and Mollie Leffler, he married historian Phyllis Koran on September 1, 1968; they have one daughter, Sarah Ann and one son, Elliot.
Leffler received a B.S. from Cornell University in 1966, and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1972.
Leffler taught at Vanderbilt University as assistant professor in 1972 to 1977, and associate professor of history in 1977 to 2002. He was chairman of the department of history and dean of the college and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia from 1997 to 2001. In 1994, he was president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He was Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at the University of Oxford from 2002 to 2003. He currently teaches at the University of Virginia as a professor of history and is a scholar of the Miller Center.
Books he has authored or edited include the following: Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism: U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015 (Princeton University Press, 2017); The Cambridge History of the Cold War (3 vols.; Cambridge University Press, 2010); and The Cold War: An International History (2nd ed.; Routledge, 2005).
In 2014, the University of Virginia gave him its Thomas Jefferson Award for excellence in scholarship. The Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations honored him in 2012 with its Laura and Norman Graebner Award for lifetime achievement and service.
Leffler has served on advisory committees to the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly concerning the declassification of documents.