Murray Polner

Murray Polner (March 15, 1928 – May 30 2019) was an American editor and author. He was the founding editor of Present Tense, a job he held for the entire two decades that the magazine was published. He was an anti-Vietnam War activist and a committed pacifist.

Murray Polner in April 2017

Background and educationEdit

The child of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Polner grew up in the Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn.[1][2] He graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School, City College of New York (1950), earned an M.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania (1976), and a Ph.D. from Union Institute & University in Russian history (1972).[1][2] He taught for 10 years in a high school in Brooklyn, worked as an adjunct professor at several area colleges in the New York area, and served as executive assistant to Harvey B. Scribner, the first chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.[1][2]

He served in the military in Japan during the Korean War.[1][2]

He moved to Great Neck, New York, in 1961 with his wife Louise (Greenwald) Polner, and lived there for the rest of his life. The Polners had three children, Beth Polner Abrahams, Robert Polner and Alex Polner.[1][2]


Polner was the editor of the magazine Present Tense from the time of its founding in 1973 until it ceased publication in 1990.[3][2]

He was the book review editor of History News Network until 2017.[2][3]

Political viewsEdit

Polner was a pacifist, although he allowed that the Holocaust was a difficult case, "It's the hardest question of all," he said, "and I'm not sure there's an answer."[1] He was a vegetarian.[3]


  • No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran (1970)
  • When Can I Come Home? a Debate on Amnesty for Exiles, Antiwar Prisoners, and Others (1972)
  • Rabbi: The American Experience, (1977).
  • Branch Rickey: A Biography, (1982)
  • Disarmed and Dangerous: The Radical Lives and Times of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, the militant anti-war priests, (2007). with co-author Jim O'Grady
  • We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, (2008) with Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Edited booksEdit

  • The Challenge of Shalom: The Jewish Tradition of Peace & Justice, (1994) co-edited with Naomi Goodman
  • Peace, Justice, and Jews: Reclaiming Our Tradition, (2007) co-edited with Stefan Merken


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rosenblatt, Gary (5 June 2019). "Murray Polner, A Feisty, Brilliant Editor". New York Jewish Week. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Roberts, Sam (5 June 2019). "Present Tense (magazine)". New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Murray Polner, founding and only editor of Present Tense magazine, dies at 91". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 2019-12-18.

External LinksEdit