Friedrich Katz (13 June 1927 – 16 October 2010) was an Austrian-born anthropologist and historian specialized in 19th and 20th century history of Latin America; particularly, in the Mexican Revolution. "He was arguably Mexico's most widely regarded historian... The whole of the Mexican press, left, right and center, noted and lamented his passing."[4] He served as co-director of the Mexican Studies Program at the University of Chicago,[3] co-received the 1999 Bolton Prize (nowadays Bolton-Johnson Prize) for the best English-language book on Latin American History by The Conference on Latin American History[5] and was honored with the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Government of Mexico.[6] He also won the 2000 Bryce Wood Book Award presented by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) for outstanding English-language book in the humanities and social sciences for his book The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. The American Historical Association has created a book prize in honor of Friedrich Katz.


Katz was born in Vienna, Austria into a Jewish family led by Leo Katz and Bronia Rein that eventually escaped from Nazi persecution.[6] After failing to settle in France and in the United States due to the Communist affiliation of his father and specifically his role as an arms buyer for Republican Spain, his family moved to Mexico, where he arrived at the age of 13 and completed his basic studies.[6] He obtained his baccalaureate from the Liceo Franco Mexicano in 1945.[7] He began his bachelor's degree studies at the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), which he eventually completed at Wagner College, in the United States.[6] He returned to Austria to complete a doctorate degree at the University of Vienna in 1954 and moved to East Germany to attain habilitation at the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1962.[3] As a university professor, he returned to Mexico to serve as a visiting scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM, 1968–69) and a year later he joined the University of Texas at Austin.[8] In 1971 he joined to the University of Chicago where, eventually, he was appointed the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Latin American History.[3]

On his 80th birthday, two university colloquia were organized in his honor by the University of Chicago and El Colegio de México.[8] He died on 16 October 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2]

He is survived by his wife, his two children, Leo Katz (jurist) and Jacqueline Ross, both law professors at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, respectively, and his four grandchildren.


  • Katz, Friedrich (1981). The Secret War in Mexico: Europe, the United States, and the Mexican Revolution. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-42588-7. OCLC 6942429. 
  • Ensayos mexicanos (1994). Alianza Editorial, Mexico City.
  • Ancient American Civilizations (1969, 1997), London.
  • The Life and Times of Pancho Villa (1998), Stanford University Press.
  • Nuevos ensayos mexicanos (2006).
  • "Pancho Villa and the Attack on Columbus, New Mexico" [1] (1978)

• "Situación social y económica de los aztecas durante los siglos XV y XVI" (Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1966)

Further reading

  • Lomnitz, Claudio. "On the Improbable Popularity of Friedrich Katz". Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos, vol. 27, 1, Winter 2011, p. 233-39.


  1. ^ García Hernández, Arturo (2007-11-09). "Gracias a México me hice historiador: Friedrich Katz" (in Spanish). Mexico City: La Jornada. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Sierra, Sonia (16 October 2010). "Fallece historiador de Pancho Villa". El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "C. Friedrich Katz". The Department of History, University of Chicago. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  4. ^ Claudio Lomnitz, "On the Improbable Popularity of Friedrich Katz". Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos, vol. 27, 1, Winter 2011, p. 233.
  5. ^ "Bolton-Johnson Prize". The Conference on Latin American History. 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c d "El Cardenismo sobre la mesa" (PDF) (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de la Revolución Mexicana. June 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 August 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Haffenstangel, Renata von. México, el exilio bien temperado. National Autonomous University of Mexico, January 1, 1995. ISBN 9683644481, 9789683644480. p. 350. "Aquí Friedrich Katz obtuvo su bachillerato en el Liceo Franco-Mexicano en 1945."
  8. ^ a b Garciadiego, Javier (December 2007). "Friedrich Katz y su patria adoptiva" (in Spanish). Mexico City: Letras Libres. Retrieved 27 November 2009.