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Billionaires of the American West

From the Big Four To Big Tech
Margaret O’Mara
Mon October 23rd 2023, 4:00 - 5:30pm
Event Sponsor
Bill Lane Center for the American West
Stanford Department of History
Lane History Corner, Room 002, Building 200
450 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

The Western History Lecture Series presents Margaret O'Mara, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington. Margaret's talk, "Billionaires of the American West: From the Big Four To Big Tech" will be held on Monday, October 23, 2023, and is co-hosted by the Bill Lane Center and the Stanford Department of History. The American West has produced enormous business empires and personal fortunes with outsized influence on American culture, economy, and politics, from the Gilded Age to the present day. Drawing upon her new research, Margaret O’Mara considers 150 years of extreme wealth in the West, its causes and consequences, and the commonalities of personality, politics, and place that tie Western billionaires past and present.

Headshot of speaker
Photo Credit: Jim Garner

Margaret O’Mara is a leading historian of Silicon Valley and the author of two acclaimed books about the modern American technology industry: The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (Penguin Press, 2019) and Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search For The Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005). She also is a historian of the American presidency and author of Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century (Penn Press, 2015). She is a coauthor, with David Kennedy and Lizabeth Cohen, of the widely used United States history college textbook, The American Pageant (Cengage).

Her writing on technology, politics, and society has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, WIRED, MIT Technology Review, The American Prospect, and other major national and international publications. Margaret’s historical perspective on current events also has been seen and heard on a range of major broadcast television and radio outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, PBS, BBC, CBC, and NPR. She is an active public speaker, regularly lecturing before general and academic audiences about Silicon Valley's evolution and the impact of its people, companies, and politics on the United States and the world. She also speaks often (especially in election years) about the past, present, and future of the American presidency.

Margaret is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer and a past fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. She is a series editor of the Politics and Society in Modern America series at Princeton University Press and serves on the editorial board of Modern American History.

She received her MA/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Northwestern University. She is an alumna of Little Rock Central High School. Prior to her academic career, she served in the Clinton Administration, working on economic and social policy in the White House and in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.