History on Film/Film on History

History on Film: Film on History

A Companion to the Historical Film


Visions of the Past

Visions of The Past

Revisioning History

Revisioning History

Romantic Revolutionary

Romantic Revolutionary

Crusade of The Left

Crusade of The Left

Click Book Covers for Descriptions

A Few Words About my Life and Career

portrait I must have been born with a restless nature, something that will explain why I have traveled so much, changed fields so many times. Born in Montreal, Canada, I have lived most of my life in the Los Angeles area, where for some decades now I have been a professor of history at the California Institute of Technology. My publications have included works of history, biography, and criticism, but in recent years I have turned to more imaginative forms of writing -- a book of family stories entitled The Man Who Swam Into History (2005), and two novels, King of Odessa (2003), Red Star, Crescent Moon: A Muslim-Jewish Love Story (2010), and a memoir, Adventures of a Postmodern Historian: Living And Writing the Past (2016).

My works of narrative history and/or biography include Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed (1975 Commonwealth Club of California medal for Non Fiction), which was used as the basis of the Academy Award winning film Reds; Crusade of the Left (1970), an account of the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War and Mirror in the Shrine (1988), a multi-voiced work that deals with three American sojourners in 19th century Japan.

I have also produced three volumes about the historical film, a book of essays, Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (1995), an anthology, Revisioning History: Filmmakers and the Construction of a New Past (1995) and a summation of my theories on the visual media, History on Film / Film on History (2006). The first of this trio was named Book of the Year by the international journal, Film Historia.

My writings have been translated into several foreign languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Hungarian, and Polish. I have won four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, three Fulbright fellowships, and have been a visiting professor at the University of Barcelona; the European University Institute in Florence; the University of La Laguna in the Canary Islands; Kyushu University in Japan; the University of Tolima in Colombia; and St. Andrews University.

In the late eighties, I created and served for six years as editor of the film section of the American Historical Review; in the nineties I helped to found Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice; and in 2010 I joined the editorial board of Reviews in American History. My involvement with film productions includes time spent as consultant on both dramatic features and documentaries, including: Reds, The Good Fight, Darrow, and Tango of Slaves. My essays and works of fiction have appeared in Partisan Review, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, and Michigan Quarterly Review, and I have contributed occasional pieces and reviews to the New Republic, the Progressive, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian (Manchester) and the Times (of London).

Over the years I and my wife, Nahid Massoud, have visited more than thirty countries on six continents. We are both devoted swimmers (we met in a YMCA pool), hikers, and practitioners of Iyengar Yoga. Nahid Massoud, who worked in psychiatry for many years, have more recently become director of an art space named Sharq (the East), devoted to showing the works of bi cultural artists whose roots lay in the Middle East or South Asia. She has hosted events and exhibitions for artists from Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Kurdistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Armenia. Nahid is also involved in raising orchids and succulents and practicing photography.

Curriculum Vitae


Position:  Emeritus Professor of History, California Institute of Technology

Address: Humanities/Social Sciences, 101-40, Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91125

Telephone and FAX: (310) 459-6041 E-mail: rr@hss.caltech.edu

Education: PhD in History, University of California, Los Angeles: 1966


Silver Medal Award, 1975 - Commonwealth Club of California: Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed

Book of the Year 1995 - Visions of the Past - Awarded by Film Historia

Barnes and Nobel Discover Great New Writers, 2003 - for King of Odessa


Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion and the Spanish Civil War. N.Y.:Pegasus, 1969.

Republished: Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1980.
New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers, 2009 (With a new introduction)

Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1975;

Paperbacks: New York: Vintage, 1981; Cambridge: Harvard, 1992.
Quality Paperback Book Club Selection, 1982

Awarded: Silver Medal, Commonwealth Club of California, 1975

Translations, Foreign Editions:
John Reed: rivoluzionario romantico. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1976.
John Reed: le romantisme revolutionnaire. Paris: Francois Maspero, 1976; republished, Editions Seuil, 1982.
John Reed: Un revolucionario romantico. Mexico, D.F.: Ediciones Era, 1979
Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed. London: Penguin, 1982
Romantikus Forralmor: John Reed Elete. Budapest: Kossuth, 1983
John Reed Pyeongjeon. Seoul: Agora, 2007

Mirror in the Shrine: American Encounters in Meiji Japan. Cambridge: Harvard, 1988.

Paperback: Cambridge: Harvard, 1991.
History Book Club Selection: 1988.

Hearn, Morse, Griffis no Nihon. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2000.
Lo Specchio e il Santuario. Milan: Feltrinelli, 2001.

Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History. Cambridge: Harvard, 1995.

Awarded: 1995 Book of the Year, Film Historia (Barcelona)

El pasado en imagenes: El desafio del cine a nuestra idea de la historia.
Madrid: Ariel, 1997.

King of Odessa. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2003.

Paperback: Northwestern University Press, 2007

The Man Who Swam Into History: The (Mostly) True Story of my Jewish Family. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

History on Film / Film on History. London and New York: Pearson, 2006.

Second edition with a new introduction: 2012
Portuguese Translation: A historia nos filmes / Os filmes na historia. Sao Paolo, Brazil: Paz e Terral Ltda, 2010
Spain La historia en el cine, El Cine sobre La Historia. Madrid, Rialp, 2013

Red Star, Crescent Moon: A Muslim Jewish Love Story. (Washington DC: NAP, 2010).


Protest from the Right. Beverly Hills: Glencoe - Macmillan Co., 1968, 2nd Edition, 1970.

Seasons of Rebellion: Protest and Radicalism in Recent America. New York: Holt, 1972.

Republished: Washington D.C.:University Press of America, 1980.
Los cantos de la conmocion: Veinte años de rock. Barcelona: Tusquets, 1974

Revisioning History: Filmmakers and the Construction of the Past. Princeton, N.J.:Princeton University Press, 1995.

Translation: Young-hwa, Yuck-sa; Young-hwa wa sero-oun gwagur eimannam. Seoul: Sonamoo Publishing Union, 2002.

Experiments in Rethinking History. Co-editor with Alun Munslow. New York and London: Routledge, 2004.

The Blackwell Companion to Historical Film. Co-editor with Constantin Parvulescu. Oxford: Blackwells-Willey, 2013


Do People Look Up at the Moon Anymore?

Do People Look Up at the Moon Anymore?

Red Star, Crescent Moon

Red Star, Crescent Moon

King of Odessa

King of Odessa

The Man Who Swam Into History

The Man Who Swam Into History

Mirror in The Shrine

Mirror in The Shrine