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

Analysis and Commentary

Spying On The Economy Under Communism (Page 15)

by Mark Harrisonvia University of Warwick
Monday, April 25, 2016

Conventionally, market regulators are there to enforce competition, transparency, and fairness. Mark Harrison’s research exposes the role of a hitherto hidden regulator of the Soviet command economy, the secret police, responsible for secrecy, labor market discrimination, and the party’s monopoly of power.

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Comrade Frumkin’s Prophecy

by Mark Harrisonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 18, 2016

Among the millions of ordinary people who ran afoul of the Soviet police state, one predicted its doom. Astoundingly enough, he survived.


Seven Soviet-Era Tips for Running a Successful Police State

by Mark Harrisonvia The Conversation
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Soviet Union was one of the world’s more durable police states – and it is now one of the best documented. From Stalin’s bloody terror to the less violent but still rigidly authoritarian rule of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, the Soviet police state underwent many changes. From this history emerge seven underlying habits that communist rulers cultivated in order to safeguard their rule.

Analysis and Commentary

How We Paid For Spitfires

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Monday, March 21, 2016

On March th we marked the eightieth anniversary of the 1936 maiden flight of the Supermarine Spitfire, a fighter airplane that played a decisive role in Britain's air defense in World War II.

Analysis and Commentary

Whatever is Abnormal Is Suspicious

by Mark Harrisonvia University of Warwick
Friday, March 11, 2016

China is investing heavily in its capacity to monitor and evaluate the attitudes and behavior of the population. On 14 June 2014 the State Council issued a Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System. 

Analysis and Commentary

First, Suspect Your Friends

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Sunday, February 28, 2016

In 1983 Sharon Tennison, a US citizen, launched the Center for Citizen Initiatives, an NGO dedicated to improving US-Soviet relations from below. Her work is now in its fourth decade. In support of that work she has spoken up for more understanding of Russia in the West. 

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Enemy Of The State

by Mark Harrisonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What was everyday life like under the Soviet police state?

Analysis and Commentary

The KGB Gave My Book Its Title

by Mark Harrisonvia University of Warwick
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

My book One Day We Will Live Without Fear: Everyday Lives Under the Soviet Police State is published today in the US. It will be available in Europe from February 29. This is the story behind the title of the last chapter of my book, which I also used as the title of the book as a whole.

Analysis and Commentary

Fixing Global Inequality, Or Not: Eleven Steps, Not All Easy

by Mark Harrisonvia University of Warwick
Monday, January 25, 2016

I have many cousins of various degrees, all lovely people who care about the state of the world. 

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Analysis and Commentary

Supplying Hatred

by Mark Harrisonvia Mark Harrison's Blog
Friday, January 1, 2016

The image originated on a facebook page called “I hate David Cameron.” Then it was shared around until one of my friends liked it. So, on Christmas Day in the evening, it appeared on my facebook home page.