Gene Dattel ‘66

Cultural and Economic Historian


Gene Dattel, a cultural and economic historian, grew up in the majority-black cotton country of the Mississippi Delta. He was educated at Yale University and Vanderbilt University Law School. He then embarked on a twenty-year career in global finance as a managing director at Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley, spending a majority of his career overseas in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

He subsequently consulted for leading global financial institutions and the Pentagon as a foremost authority on Asian financial institutions. His first book The Sun that Never Rose (1994) presciently outlined Japan’s long term structural economic problems when conventional wisdom predicted an unassailable economic juggernaut.

He also has served as an advisor to major cultural institutions from The New York Historical Society to The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. His book, Cotton and Race in the Making of America (2009) describes the fateful intersection of cotton’s economic power to the African American experience. His recent book, Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure (2017), is a frank appraisal of America’s racial issues with the past tied to the present and the future. His personal family essay, “Jewish Immigrants: From Eastern Europe to the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta” (2018) was published in Journeys: An American Story

He lectures widely at universities, museums, and public forums across the country. He is an Associate Fellow of Yale’s Berkeley College Mr. Dattel lives in New York and Connecticut with his wife and their dog –Percy.