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Contemporary

The study of political systems across the world generates insights into the unique challenges posed by state and non-state actors alike. Philosophical differences to governing nations have led to wars, conflicts, and diplomatic issues that are worth learning from.

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Frank Dikötter

Senior Fellow
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Frank Dikötter

Senior Fellow

Frank Dikötter is chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before moving to Asia in 2006, he was professor of the modern history of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was born in the Netherlands, educated in Switzerland, and received his PhD from the University of London in 1990. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Leiden. Frank has published a dozen books that have changed the way we look at the history of China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China (Stanford University Press, 1992) to China before Mao: The Age of Openness (University of California Press, 2007). His Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (University of Chicago Press, 2004) used archives from China, Europe, and the United States to challenge one of the cornerstones of current international drug policy, namely, the idea that opium changed China into a nation of addicts. Most recently he has published a People's Trilogy, using newly opened files from the Chinese Communist Party’s own archives to document the impact of communism on the lives of ordinary people under Mao. The first volume, Mao's Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962, won the 2011 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, Britain’s most prestigious book award for non-fiction. It was selected as a Book of the Year by The Economist, the Independent, the Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard, The Telegraph, the New Statesman and the Globe and Mail, and has been translated into thirteen languages. The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2014. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976 concludes the trilogy and was published in May 2016. He is currently working on a history of the cult of personality seen through the lives of eight dictators, from Mussolini to Mao and Mengistu.

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Stephen Kotkin

Senior Fellow / National Fellow 2010-11
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Stephen Kotkin

Senior Fellow / National Fellow 2010-11

Stephen Kotkin, in addition to being a Hoover senior fellow, is the Birkelund Professor of History and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and History Department of Princeton University, where he has taught since 1989.  He received his PhD at UC Berkeley during the years Reagan was president.  He has been conducting research in the Hoover Library and Archives for three decades.  He founded and runs Princeton’s Global History Initiative. Kotkin’s research encompasses geopolitics and authoritarian regimes in history and in the present.  His publications include Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (Penguin, October 2017), Stalin, Vol. I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 (Penguin, November 2014), part of a three-volume history of Russian power in the world and of Stalin’s power in Russia. The first volume has been called "superb" (Wall Street Journal); "riveting" (New York Times); "magisterial" (American Scholar); "masterful" (Literary Review); "near definitive" (New Yorker);  "exceptionally ambitious" (Atlantic); "exciting" (Reason); and "judicious" (First Things).  He has also written a history of the Stalin system’s rise from an in-depth street-level perspective, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization (University of California, 1995). With the Berlin Wall collapsing two months into his first course at Princeton, Kotkin has written a trilogy analyzing communism’s demise.  Two volumes have appeared thus far: Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse 1970–2000 (Oxford, 2001; revised edition 2008) and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment, with a contribution by Jan T. Gross (Modern Library, 2009).  A third, on the Soviet Union in the third world and Afghanistan, is in manuscript. Although he has never served in government, Kotkin has participated in numerous National Intelligence Council events over the years.  He served as the lead book reviewer for the New York Times Sunday Business Section (2006–9), and has published a large number of reviews and essays in the New Republic, Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement, and New Yorker, among other venues.  He has been a Hoover National Fellow, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow.  

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Timothy Garton Ash

Senior Fellow
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Timothy Garton Ash

Senior Fellow

Timothy Garton Ash, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is an internationally acclaimed contemporary historian whose work has focused on Europe’s history since 1945. Garton Ash is in residence at Hoover on a part-time basis; he continues his work as professor of European studies and as Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. Among the topics he has covered are the liberation of Central Europe from communism, Germany before and after reunification, how countries deal with a difficult past, global free speech in the age of the internet and mass migration (see the 13-language interactive Oxford University project Free Speech Debate), and the European Union’s relationships with partners, including the United States and rising non-Western powers such as China.  He is currently working on a history of contemporary Europe and leading a major research project at Oxford on Europe's past and future. His most recent book is a new edition of The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of 1989 as Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague (originally published 1990), with a major new chapter covering developments in central Europe over the last 30 years. His previous books include Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016), Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade without a Name (2010); Free World: America, Europe and the Surprising Future of the West (2004); The File: A Personal History (1998); In Europe's Name: Germany and the Divided Continent (1993); The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, 1980–82 (1983); and Und Willst Du Nicht Mein Brüder Sein (1981). He coedited Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-Violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (2009). Garton Ash is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Historical Society, and the Royal Society of Arts and has received numerous honors and awards, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the George Orwell Prize, the Order of Merit from Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and honorary doctorates from St. Andrew's University and the Catholic University of Leuven. In 2017 he was awarded the prestigious International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen. He writes a regular column in the Guardian, which is widely syndicated in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. He is a regular contributor to other periodicals, including the Financial Times. Garton Ash, who holds a BA and MA in modern history from the University of Oxford, did graduate studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, at the Free University in West Berlin, and at Humboldt University in East Berlin.

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Victor Davis Hanson

Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
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Victor Davis Hanson

Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; his focus is classics and military history. Hanson was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992–93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991–92), the annual Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Visiting Fellow in History at Hillsdale College (2004–), the Visiting Shifron Professor of Military History at the US Naval Academy (2002–3),and the William Simon Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University (2010). In 1991 he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award. He received the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism (2002), presented the Manhattan's Institute's Wriston Lecture (2004), and was awarded the National Humanities Medal (2007) and the Bradley Prize (2008). Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, and newspaper editorials on Greek, agrarian, and military history and essays on contemporary culture. He has written or edited twenty-four books, the latest of which is The Case for Trump (Basic Books, 2019). His other books include The Second World Wars (Basic Books, 2017); The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - from Ancient Greece to Iraq (Bloomsbury 2013); The End of Sparta (Bloomsbury, 2011); The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern (Bloomsbury, 2010); Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome (ed.) (Princeton, 2010); The Other Greeks (California, 1998); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001); Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003); A War Like No Other (Random House, 2005); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback ed., 2001); and Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003), as well as two books on family farming, Fields without Dreams (Free Press, 1995) and The Land Was Everything (Free Press, 1998). Currently, he is a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services and a weekly columnist for the National Review Online. Hanson received a BA in classics at the University of California, Santa Cruz (1975), was a fellow at the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (1977–78), and received his PhD in classics from Stanford University (1980).

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