Jonathan Soffer, associate professor of history in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), has been elected a fellow of the New York Academy of History. The professional organization furthers the writing and teaching of the history of the City and State of New York.
Elected fellows are historians, independent scholars, public historians, museum curators and administrators, educators, archivists and others with a record of achievement and publications. Membership is by invitation only.
As well as being “very excited and grateful to them for electing me,” Soffer says, “as a fellow, I will be in contact with senior and significant historians of New York.”
Soffer’s election particularly recognizes the importance of his 2010 book, Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York (Columbia University Press), a biography of the three-term mayor known as “Hizzoner.” The book is also a portrait of the city from 1978 to 1990, “a rags-to-riches saga with many lessons for today’s cities as they cope with enormous financial pressure,” as one reviewer put it. Other readers have called it “the go-to book on Ed Koch and his mayoralty,” “well written, accessible, thoughtful,” “fascinating, entertainingly written and illuminating” and said that “those interested in learning how municipal governments work, especially during financial crises, will be especially enlightened by Soffer’s efforts.”
The notoriously prickly Koch “was generally respectful,” Soffer says, even while he disagreed on “many points where I was critical of him.”
Along with teaching at NYU-Poly about sustainable urban environments and New York City history, Soffer is researching the New York women’s suffrage referendum of 1917, supported in part by a grant from the Gilder Lehrman Foundation. He is also researching policing and urban police space, and how Progressive politicians, writers and feminist theorists began using Machiavellian theory to fight corruption.