Williamson Murray graduated from Yale University in 1963 with honors in history. He then served five years as an officer in the United States Air Force, including a tour in Southeast Asia with the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing (C-130s). He returned to Yale University where he received his Ph.D. in military-diplomatic history, working under Hans Gatzke and Donald Kagan. He taught two years in the Yale history department before moving on to Ohio State University in fall 1977 as a military and diplomatic historian. He received the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award in 1987. He took early retirement from Ohio State in 1995 as Professor Emeritus of History.
Dr. Murray has taught at a number of academic and military institutions, including the Air War College, the United States Military Academy, and the Naval War College. He has also served as a Secretary of the Navy Fellow at the Navy War College, the Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, the Matthew C. Horner Professor of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University, the Charles Lindbergh Chair at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and the Harold K. Johnson Professor of Military History at the Army War College. At present he is a consultant at the Institute of Defense Analyses, where he has been working on the Iraqi Perspectives Project, and has just completed two years as the distinguished visiting professor of naval heritage and history at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
He has written a wide selection of articles and books. He is the author of The Change in the European Balance of Power, 1938-1939, The Path to Ruin (Princeton University Press, 1984); Luftwaffe (Nautical and Aviation Press, 1985); German Military Effectiveness (Nautical and Aviation Press, 1992); The Air War in the Persian Gulf (Nautical and Aviation Press, 1995); and Air War, 1914-1945 (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1999). Professors Murray and Allan Millett have published an operational history of World War II, A War To Be Won, Fighting the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2000) which has received rave reviews from a number of newspapers and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, The Naval War College Review, The Journal of Military History, and Strategic Review.. Professor Murray was a major contributor to The Cambridge History of War, ed. by Geoffrey Parker (Cambridge University Press) and also authored with Major General Robert Scales, Jr. The Iraq War, A Military History (Harvard University Press, 2003). He has also edited with Allan Millett a number of books on the implications of the past for current military thinking: Military Effectiveness, three volumes (Allen and Unwin, 1988; scheduled for reissue by Cambridge University Press, fall 2010)); Calculations, Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II (Free Press, 1992); and Military Innovations in the Interwar Period (Cambridge, 1996). Professor Murray has also edited with MacGregor Knox, The Making of Strategy, Rulers, States, and War (Cambridge University Press, 1994) and The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 (Cambridge, University Press, 2001). He also edited with Richard Sinnreich The Past as Prologue, The Importance of History to the Military Profession (Cambridge University Press, 2006). His most recent major edited publication are The Making of Peace: Rulers, States, and the Aftermath of War which he edited with James Lacey (Cambridge University Press, 2009); and Conflicting Currents: Japan and the United States (Praeger, 2009)..