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David Landes: 1924 - 2013 - Economic Historian.


David Saul Landes, 89, died on August 17, 2013 in Haverford, PA. He was the beloved husband of Sonia T. Landes, who died on April 12, 2013, after 69 years of marriage. He was the father of Jane Landes Foster, Richard Allen Landes, and Alison Landes Fiekowsky. Grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of nine.

David's family immigrated to New York from Husi, Romania in 1904. David was born April 29, 1924. David served in the Signal Corp. of the U.S. Army in World War II, becoming a Second Lieutenant with a field promotion in May 1944. He earned degrees from the City College of New York and Harvard University, and was awarded numerous honorary degrees from European universities, including Université de Lille, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, and most recently the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris.


In 1964 Harvard University elected him Professor of History, and he remained at Harvard University for the balance of his career, retiring in 1997, as the Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics, bridging the disciplines of history and economics. David was one of the preeminent scholars of his generation and is particularly known for arguing the central role of culture in economic development. Among his distinguished works were The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, (New York : Norton 1998), Bankers and PashasThe Unbound PrometheusRevolution in Time, and Dynasties: Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Worlds Great Family Businesses

In addition, he published over fifty articles and served as editor of numerous publications. David's scholarship has been translated into over a dozen languages. In the 1970s he became an astute and avid watch collector, known to makers and devotees of watches and time keeping. He served as Chairman of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East in the 1970s. He was devoted to Judaism, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel, a legacy continued by his descendants.

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