Passing of Dan Leab

John Haynes's picture

Just heard of the death last night after a long hospital stay of Dan Leab.  Dan was the founder and long-time editor of the journal American Communist History and long-time secretary treasurer of the Historians of American Communism.  

Keywords: Dan Leab, obituary

Even though it sounds like he has had a hard time, I am very sad.

I never met Dan - but he had promised me a lunch when I was in NYC next year.
Dan was such a kindly scholarly editor who helped me a great deal in preparing and revising my first article for ACH.

The world needs more like him.

I am genuinely shocked to learn this. We last lunched together at his NYC Club after his car accident some time ago and he was more frail than usual. A larger-than-life generous spirited man. Phillip Deery

I am very sorry to hear the news. Dan, in all my dealings with him, was a perfect gentleman.

John: Thank you for the news. He had an amazing career and was most kindly to all.

All: I have created an initial entry on Dan on Wikipedia:

Wikipedia is only as good as users make it: for those of you who knew Dan and can add or correct to my initial pass, please take a pass and change as you see fit.

R.I.P. , Daniel Josef Leab.

Dear John,

Back in 1991 or 1992, when the Soviet Union's sudden collapse stunned the world, three of our nation's finest historians urged me to consult the Moscow archives for material to enhance my completed dissertation on Earl Browder. You, Ed Johanningsmeier, and Dan Leab all offered kind and gentle persuasion, on many occasions, that i should make the journey. In those days, Moscow was still a very strange and forbidding place, at least to non-Communists. I had never been outside North America. The prospect of going there alone, with only the most rudimentary commercial lodging facilities, had me terrified. All three of you helped me a lot. I believe Dan's lengthy telephone conversations--some over an hour long, probably did the most to instill some courage in me. Over subsequent years, Dan advised me on other projects and helped untangle a number of snafus with Taylor and Francis, publishers of _American Communist History_. Our field has lost not only a distinguished scholar, but a colleague who knew how to instill confidence and who displayed more patience than any employed scholar I have ever met. He was also a great guy on a much less formal level. I saw this in the twenty-first century after a conference at Hofstra University when he, Vern Pedersen, and I shared many a drink in a dive bar filled with cheering hockey fans of tender years. Several times after Dan's horrific accident he told me that he would not live long enough to overspend his pension and savings-- another one of my personal fears. Now it is sad to see that Dan was suffering more than he ever let on. We are all poorer for the loss of Dan Leab, and I wish his family consolations, comfort, and warm memories of a truly wonderful human being . Jim Ryan

Dan and I talked on the phone many times, sometimes for more than an hour