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Herbert S. Klein is an American historian.

He was born in New York City in the borough of the Bronx on January 6, 1936. He attended public schools in Far Rockaway Queens. After graduating Far Rockaway High School, he first attended Syracuse University from 1953 to 1955 and then transferred to the University of Chicago, where he obtained his BA in history in 1957, his MA in 1959 and his PhD in 1963 with a major in history and a minor in anthropology. He taught Latin American history at the University of Chicago from 1962 to 1969, rising from lecturer to the rank of associate professor with tenure. He then taught at Columbia University from 1969 to 2005, being named the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History in 2003. He retired from Columbia in 2005 and was named professor of history and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University from 2005 to 2011. After his retirement as director, he was named research fellow and curator of Latin American Collection, of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University in 2011–2017.

His main areas of interests are in comparative social history, quantitative methods in historical research and demographic history. He has published some 25 books dealing with the history of slavery, the Atlantic slave trade, colonial fiscal history, and demographic history and has published extensively on the history of Bolivia, Brazil and the United States. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fulbright Lecturer in numerous Latin American universities and received grants from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Tinker Foundation. His honors include the 1977 "Socio-Psychological Prize" of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), joint with Jonathan Kelley; the 2010 Premio em Historia e Ciencias Sociais of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, for his co-authored book Escravismo em São Paulo e Minas Gerais (joint with Iraci Costa and Francisco Vidal Luna) and in 2015 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Conference on Latin American History, the professional organization of Latin American historians. In 1982 he was elected chair of CLAH. He was also editor of the Cambridge University Press Series of Latin American Monographs from 2003-2015.

His first book was Slavery in the Americas, A Comparative Study of Cuba and Virginia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, published in 1967; and his most recent book is the joint authored study with Francisco Vidal Luna, The Economic and Social History of Brazil since 1889. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Many of his books have been translated into Portuguese and Spanish, and his Concise History of Bolivia aside from numerous editions in Spanish has appeared in several editions and re-printings in Chinese and Japanese, and his The Atlantic Slave Trade was published in Italian as well as in Spanish and two different Portuguese editions. Aside from his extensive work on Latin America, he has published a A Population History of the United States. 2nd ed. revised, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012 and Hispanics in the United States, 1980-2005. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010 (joint with Laird Bergad). He also published with John Tepaske five volumes on Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America, 1580-1825. Herbert S. Klein is also the author of some 175 articles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German on themes in Latin American, North American and Comparative History.

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