Mark Harrison

Research Fellow / National Fellow

Mark Harrison is a research fellow and a former national fellow (2008–9) at the Hoover Institution. He is an economic historian and specialist in Soviet affairs, currently affiliated with the Hoover Institution Workshop on Totalitarian Regimes led by Hoover research fellow Paul R. Gregory.

In addition to his Hoover appointment, Harrison is a professor of economics at the University of Warwick in England and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Birmingham. Harrison was one of the first Western economists to work in the Russian archives following the fall of Soviet communism. His work has brought new knowledge about the Russian and Soviet economy into mainstream economics and international economic history, especially through projects on the two world wars. He is currently working on the political economy of secrecy and state security in the Soviet Union.

Harrison has written or edited a number of books, including Guns and Rubles: The Defense Industry in the Stalinist State, published in 2008 in the Yale-Hoover series on Stalin, Stalinism, and the Cold War; The Economics of World War I (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and The Economics of World War II (Cambridge University Press, 1998). His articles have appeared in leading journals of comparative economics, economic history, and Russian studies. His work on Russia's historical national accounts in wartime was recognized by the Alec Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (1998) and the Russian National Award for Applied Economics (2012).

He has a BA in economics and politics from Cambridge University and a DPhil in modern history from Oxford University.

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Recent Commentary

Australian War Memorial Photo Collection / Captain Frank Hurley

Myths of the Great War

by Mark Harrisonvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The statesmen of 1914 knew how terrible the conflict would be—but they marched all the same.


Who Are The Neoliberals?

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, January 19, 2015

What do academic economists think about neoliberalism? I wanted to know because I was invited to take part in a private roundtable, held at Warwick on Wednesday afternoon, 14 January, 2015. The subject of the roundtable was Neoliberalism and Naomi Klein's (2007) book The Shock Doctrine. The roundtable was organized by the theatre company Dumbshow, which is currently producing a play based on some of the ideas and stories in The Shock Doctrine.


The Soviet Military–Industrial Complex: New Year Insights From Dexter And Rodionov

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Thursday, January 1, 2015

Today sees a new version of the Dexter-Rodionov guide to The Factories, Research and Design Establishments of the Soviet Defence Industry. This is the sixteenth edition; the very first (in which I was co-author) appeared in January 1999.

Poster Collection, RU/SU 2156, Hoover Institution Archives.

Back to the USSR: National Security in the Soviet Economy

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Moscow 18 months ago, I made some short videos for Postnauka, a Russian science and social-science video magazine. One of the videos I made was about the security dimension of the Soviet economy. Under the heading of "security" I had in mind both external (mainly military) security and internal political security.

One of the “kill teams” employed by Moscow in the bloody suppression of the 1924

Was The Soviet 1923 Male Birth Cohort Doomed By World War II?

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tim Harford's BBC Radio programme "More or Less" asked me to comment on a claim that is widely repeated on the internet, for example on Buzzfeed:

CIA Headquarters

Torture: Once You Start, It's Hard To Stop

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Torture is wrong. Applied to interrogation it is unproductive. Given these two things, it should be easy for interrogators to choose not to use torture. Despite this, torture is widely and persistently used in interrogation around the world. So here, apparently, is a puzzle. Why does torture persist? The solution to the puzzle is found in a third feature: torture is corrupting.


Capital Is Back — But Not As We Know It: Comment On Piketty

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Recently Warwick’s History Department held a roundtable on Thomas Piketty’s important and bestselling blockbuster, Capital in the Twenty-first Century (Piketty 2014). I was on the panel, which was ably organized and chaired by Maxine Berg, whom I thank for the invitation.

Mark Harrison discusses his research using the Lithuanian KGB records at the Hoo

Forty Years On: What I Have Learned (Not!)

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today's my last day as a full-time employee of the University of Warwick. I started in the autumn of 1974, so forty years ago. You might well think: It’s about time, too. That’s enough! I agree, so my departure is completely voluntary.

Featured Commentary

Letter to the Editor: Economics Books are Quite the Opposite of What the FT Thinks it Teaches

by Mark Harrisonvia Financial Times
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sir, You write (editorial, September 26) that economics courses too often begin with “how rational agents interact in frictionless markets”, and only later proceed to “anti-competitive practices or unstable financial markets”. This is not so: the problem is quite the opposite. All introductory textbooks quickly cover imperfect markets and the government interventions required to correct them.


From Donetsk to Danzig

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Having absorbed Austria and sliced up Czechoslovakia, Germany attacked Poland on 1 September 1939. On 3 September, that is, 75 years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany. At that moment everyone knew it was serious.