David Pietrusza, B.A.’71, M.A.’72
By Amy Halloran, B.A.’90
avid Pietrusza dedicated his book 1960: LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon (Union Square Press, 2008) to two members of the University at Albany’s history department, Professors Harry Price and Catarine Newbold.
“They were fine teachers, and I thought they were fine individuals. They were serious without being pompous, and they made sure you learned things,” Pietrusza said.
Even as a child in Amsterdam, N.Y., Pietrusza knew he wanted to be an historian. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history in quick succession, then worked for the State of New York in a variety of capacities. His passion for history merged with his career when he began writing baseball history for a range of industry titles.
His first book, Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (Diamond Communications, 1998), won the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 1998. This portrait of the first commissioner of baseball led to the biography of a gambler, Rothstein: The Life, Times & Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series (Basic Books, 2003), a finalist for an Edgar Award.
Pietrusza’s latest books focus on political history. They include 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents (Carroll & Graf, 2007); the aforementioned 1960, due out in paperback this fall concurrent with the 50th anniversary of the election and the debates; and the upcoming 1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America’s Role in the World (Union Square Press, 2011).