Hoover Institution Archives Acquires the Papers of Leon Gouré

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Hoover Institution Archives recently acquired the papers of well–known Sovietologist and civil defense expert Leon Gouré, who died in 2007 at the age of eighty–four. The son of Russian émigrés who had fled their homeland following the revolution, Gouré lived in Germany and France before immigrating to the United States following the Nazi occupation of France in 1940. He served in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps during the war, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944; following the war he used the G.I. Bill to pursue his studies at New York University, Columbia, and Georgetown, earning a doctorate in political science at Georgetown in 1961. He worked as analyst for the Rand Corporation from 1951 to 1969, advising President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration during the Vietnam War, and then chaired the Soviet studies department of the University of Miami’s Center for Advanced International Studies from 1969 to 1980. Before his retirement in 2004, he was director of Russian studies at Science Applications International Corporation, a McLean, Virginia—based consulting firm.

Gouré was perhaps best–known for his analysis of Soviet civil defense preparations in case of a nuclear war, arguing that the Soviets at the time were much better prepared for such an event and that the United States needed to follow suit. The papers acquired by the Hoover Institution, some sixty boxes of material, contain extensive files of his unpublished writings, reports, speeches, and conference papers on that topic as well as his analyses of Soviet military capabilities and Soviet perceptions of the strength of U.S. and NATO forces throughout the cold war. As Hoover manuscript cataloger Dale Reed has noted, “while directly addressing Soviet perceptions of American policy,” Gouré’s writings “also serve to document American perceptions of Soviet policy during the cold war” and contain added research value in that they extend past the breakup of the Soviet Union to illustrate how U.S. policy makers and strategists perceived the nascent Russian Federation in the 1990s.

The Leon Gouré papers have been cataloged and are available for use at the Hoover Institution Archives. A finding aid for the Gouré papers can also be found on the Online Archive of California.