Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Deborah Cohen was educated at Harvard (BA) and Berkeley (Ph.D.).  She is Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Humanities and Professor of History at Northwestern University.  Her specialty is modern European history, with a focus on Britain.

Cohen’s research has been funded by the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies (Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

She is the author of three books:  The War Come Home (University of California Press, 2001), Household Gods:  The British and their Possessions (Yale, 2006), and Family Secrets, published in 2013 by Viking Penguin in the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and New Zealand and by Oxford University Press in the US. 

Press Reviews

Review in the Financial Times

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Financial Times
Henry Hitchings

“….scrupulous research with cool analysis and a humane intelligence”

We tend to think secrets are toxic, polluting both the sanctity of families and the integrity of public life. Transparency is a political watchword, and candour is regarded as the hallmark of healthy relationships.

It is a cliché of our confessional culture that “the truth will set you free”. Frankness is represented as courageous – and also modern, the result of enlightenment’s steady progress. But, as Deborah Cohen shows in this wide-ranging study, the history of attitudes to secrecy, shame and disclosure is much more complex.