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Image of Dean Grodzins in a bowtie, smiling
Photograph by Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai

DEAN GRODZINS is the author of American Heretic: Theodore Parker and Transcendentalism (UNC, 2002) and many articles and book chapters. His essays and reviews have appeared in The Journal of American History, The Journal of Religion, and The Root, among other publications. He is a contributor to The Atlas of Boston History (Chicago, 2019) and edited the book A Language of Reverence (Meadville, 2004).


Seven case studies on the history of American democracy, which Dean co-wrote with Prof. David A. Moss of Harvard and others, are being used by thousands of high school students across the United States and were published in Moss, Democracy: A Case Study (Harvard, 2017). He and Moss also co-wrote "The U.S. Secession Crisis as a Breakdown of Democracy," in Moss, Archon Fung, and Odd Arne Westad, eds., When Democracy Breaks: Studies in Democratic Erosion and Collapse, from Ancient Athens to the Present Day (Oxford, 2024).


Dean has served as a Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University, Senior Researcher at the Harvard Business School, and Associate Professor of History at Meadville Lombard Theological School. He has been a Pew Faculty Fellow at Yale University and a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society. He is the former editor of the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History  (1995-2010) and the creator of the prize-winning comic strip, TANGENTS (1979-2000).


Selected essays and articles by Dean are available for download at Academia.edu. See also the link to Selected Works, above. Dean has given many public talks and presentations on historical subjects; see the link to Public Events, above.

Winner of the Alan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians

Named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine


"AMERICAN HERETIC is a tremendous achievement. Vivid, detailed, wide ranging, it powerfully restores Theodore Parker to us a major figure, one of our great activist intellectuals, and an inspiration for his world and ours."
—Robert D. Richardson
author of William James in the Maelstrom of American Modernism and Emerson: The Mind on Fire


"The arrival of Dean Grodzins's AMERICAN HERETIC is a landmark event .... [It] is one of the best biographies we have of a major Transcendentalist figure and far and away the best one of Parker."
New England Quarterly


"Grodzins brilliantly brings Parker to life. ... [His] rich and textured portrait is buttressed by meticulous scholarship: He has left no available book or journal unopened. ... Great fun: an elegant, deeply scholarly work that by turns reads like a coming-of-age novel, a conversion narrative, a tragic historical romance, and an intellectual odyssey. ... A dazzling--and essential--read."
UU World

Named a Best Book of 2017 by Foreign Affairs magazine


"DEMOCRACY should command the attention of teachers and students of all ages… Moss's case studies are engagingly written, well researched, rich in content and context… Moss believes that fierce political conflicts can be constructive if they are mediated by shared ideals. He seems to demonstrate, moreover, that in a world in which 'alternative facts' are gaining traction, an informed understanding of the past can help us identify pathways to a prosperous and just democracy."

Huffington Post


"This set of well-documented, accessible essays presents the prickly challenges facing the rapidly changing American democracy, for lawmakers and citizens alike… A sterling educational tool that offers a fresh presentation of how 'democracy in America has always been a contact sport.'"

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"This absolutely splendid book is a triumph on every level. A first-rate history of the United States, it is beautifully written, deeply researched, and filled with entertaining stories. For anyone who wants to see our democracy flourish, this is the book to read."

—Doris Kearns Goodwin

Winner of the 2020 Historic New England Book Prize


"The Atlas of Boston History excavates four centuries of the city's rise, fall, and rise again. With thoughtful essays that introduce new maps and historic sources, the authors guide the reader through the city's evolution from multiple angles. The result is a chronological picture of the environmental, social, cultural, and intellectual history of one of North America's most enduring urban centers. General readers will appreciate its clear explanation of the city's spatial history, while scholars will profit from a vital reference work that also serves as a source of new discovery."

― Susan Schulten

author of A History of America in 100 Maps


"One of the best, most comprehensive, and sophisticated interpretive atlases possible that historical expertise, elegant cartographic design, and civic consciousness could muster. . . . [An] impressive work."

― Urban Morphology