Timothy Naftali
Naftali in 2012
Born (1962-01-31) January 31, 1962 (age 62)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Academic background
EducationYale University (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
Harvard University (PhD)
Doctoral advisorAkira Iriye
Ernest R. May
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Virginia
New America Foundation
New York University

Timothy Naftali (born January 31, 1962) is a Canadian American historian who is clinical associate professor of public service at New York University.[1] He has written four books, two of them co-authored with Alexander Fursenko on the Cuban Missile Crisis and Nikita Khrushchev.[2] He is a regular CNN contributor as a CNN presidential historian.[3]

Early life and education

Naftali was born in Montreal and at one point worked as an aide to Robert Bourassa. In 2007, he told the Toronto Star that he left Canada for the US in response to Quebec's language laws:

It seemed to me that the deck was stacked against civil liberties and I preferred to be in a country where I didn't have to worry about what language I spoke.[4]

He earned his undergraduate degree from Yale, and later obtained graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins and Harvard.[2]


Naftali's area of focus was the history of counterterrorism and the Cold War.[5][6] Before becoming director of the Nixon Library in 2007, Naftali had been an associate professor at the University of Virginia, where he directed the Miller Center of Public Affairs' Presidential Recordings Program.[7] In the 1990s, he taught at the University of Hawaii and Yale University.[8]

He served as a consultant to the 9/11 Commission, which commissioned him to write an unclassified history of American counterterrorism policy. This was later expanded into his 2005 book Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism.[9][10][11]

From 2007 to 2011, he directed the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. He was appointed when control of the Library was transferred from the Richard Nixon Foundation to the National Archives and Records Administration.[12][13] His biggest task at the library was to present a more objective and unbiased picture of the Watergate scandal—a task completed in March 2011, when the Library's new Watergate gallery opened and received extensive news coverage.[13] Naftali left the Nixon Library later that year.[14]

Personal life

Naftali is gay.[15] He has said that he has faced discrimination for his sexual orientation in the past.[16]

Selected publications


  1. ^ "Timothy Naftali | NYU Wagner". wagner.nyu.edu. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of the Director". Archived from the original on December 18, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  3. ^ Naftali, Tim (March 23, 2017). "Being Donald Trump: a president living in his own fantasy world". CNN. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  4. ^ Harper, Tim (July 11, 2007). "Reassessing the Nixon legacy". The Star. Toronto.
  5. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (May 8, 2007). "The Talk of the Town: Sprucing Up Nixon". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  6. ^ Martelle, Scott (July 2010). "The War Over Nixon". LA Magazine.
  7. ^ Lee, Christopher (April 11, 2006). "U-Va. History Professor Named First Director of Nixon Library". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Timothy Naftali". Cato Unbound. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "Naftali, Timothy. Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism. New York: Basic Books, 2005. | Charters | Journal of Conflict Studies". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  10. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (July 10, 2005). "'Blind Spot' and 'Preventing Surprise Attacks': It Didn't Start on 9/11". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Crenshaw, Martha (June 21, 2005). "Counterterrorism in Retrospect". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Flaccus, Gillian (July 12, 2007). "Nixon Library Transfers to Federal Control". Associated Press.
  13. ^ a b Adam, Nagourney (March 31, 2011). "Nixon Library Opens a Door Some Would Prefer Left Closed". New York Times.
  14. ^ Whiting, David (November 17, 2011). "Nixon library director leaves mixed legacy". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  15. ^ Martelle, Scott (July 1, 2014). "The War Over Nixon". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on June 22, 2014.
  16. ^ Nagourney, Adam (August 6, 2010). "Watergate Becomes Sore Point at Nixon Library". The New York Times.