MacArthur Fellows Program

Jacob Soll

European Historian | Class of 2011

Exploring the development of political thought and criticism in early modern Europe and shedding new light on the origins of the modern state. 

European Historian
Rutgers University
Camden, New Jersey
42 at time of award
Published September 20, 2011

About Jacob's Work

Jacob Soll is a historian whose meticulously researched studies of early modern Europe are shedding new light on the origins of the modern state. Drawing on intellectual, political, cultural, and institutional history, Soll explores the development of political thought and criticism in relation to governance from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries in Western Europe. Soll's first book, Publishing "The Prince" (2005), examines the role of commentaries, editions, and translations of Machiavelli produced by the previously little-studied figure Amelot de La Houssaye (1634-1706), who became the most influential writer on secular politics during the reign of Louis XIV. Grounded in extensive analysis of archival, manuscript, and early printed sources, Soll shows how Amelot and his publishers arranged prefaces, columns, and footnotes in a manner that transformed established works, imbuing books previously considered as supporting royal power with an alternate, even revolutionary, political message. In The Information Master (2009), he investigates the formation of a state-information gathering and classifying network by Louis XIV's chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), revealing that Colbert's passion for information was both a means of control and a medium for his own political advancement: his systematic and encyclopedic information collection served to strengthen and uphold Louis XIV's absolute rule. With these and other projects in progress — including an intellectual and practical history of accounting and its role in governance in the modern world and a study of the composition of library catalogues during the Enlightenment — Soll is opening up new fields of inquiry and elucidating how modern governments came into being.


Jacob Soll received a B.A. (1991) from the University of Iowa, a D.E.A. (1993) from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and a Ph.D. (1998) from Magdalene College, Cambridge University. He has been affiliated with Rutgers University, Camden, since 1999, where he is currently a professor in the Department of History.

Select News Coverage of Jacob Soll
April 3, 2017
"The Revelatory Horror of The Zookeeper’s Wife"
New Republic
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
February 1, 2017
"How Think Tanks Became Engines of Royal Propaganda"
Tablet Magazine
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
January 27, 2017
"I’m Jacob Soll, and I'm Here to Talk About Fake News. AMA!"
reddit AMA
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
December 18, 2016
"The Long and Brutal History of Fake News"
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
November 1, 2016
"“O Sistema de Rating é Fraudulento”"
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
April 20, 2016
"Why We Should Be Really Worried About the Panama Papers"
Politico Magazine
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
August 27, 2015
"China: The New Spanish Empire?"
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
July 30, 2015
"Jacob Soll On Financial Accountability And The Rise And Fall Of Nations"
Boise State Public Radio
Jacob Soll, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
View all news

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