A 1981 graduate of Oberlin college, Mancall attended graduate school at Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in history in 1986. Mancall was a visiting Assistant Professor of History at Connecticut College from 1986 to 1987. After teaching as a Lecturer on History and Literature at Harvard for two years, he took a position at the University of Kansas in 1989. In 2001, Mancall took a position at the University of Southern California, where he helped to create the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute in 2003, becoming its first director. He has served on the editorial board of several journals, and from 2007 to 2009 he was Associate Vice Provost for Research Advancement at the University of Southern California.
Mancall has written five books and edited eight others, and written around forty book reviews in such journals as American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Economic History, Journal of the Early Republic, and many others. His newest book, Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson—A Tale of Mutiny and Murder in the Arctic was published by Basic Books on June 9, 2009. Mancall has accepted an offer to write Volume 1 of the Oxford History of the United States series covering American colonial history to c. 1680.
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