Bertrand M. Patenaude

Research Fellow

Bertrand M. Patenaude is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is also a lecturer in history and international relations at Stanford University. His most recent book is Defining Moments, published by the Hoover Institution Press in 2019. He is also the author of Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, published by HarperCollins in 2009, and A Wealth of Ideas: Revelations from the Hoover Institution Archives (Stanford University Press, 2006), a richly illustrated coffee-table book that showcases the Hoover Archives’ extraordinary collections, which span the entire twentieth century. His first book, The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 (Stanford University Press, 2002) won the 2003 Marshall Shulman Book Prize and is the basis for a forthcoming documentary film produced for the award-winning PBS series American Experience.

He has also edited several books, including, with Terence Emmons, War, Revolution, and Peace in Russia: The Passages of Frank Golder, 1914–1927 (Hoover Institution Press, 1992); The Russian Revolution (Garland, 1992); Stalin and Stalinism (Garland, 1992); and Soviet Scholarship under Gorbachev (Center for Russian and East European Studies, Stanford, 1988).

Among his important discoveries in the Hoover Archives is a 1922 Russian-language book manuscript by the Moscow economist Lev Litoshenko. That manuscript, unidentified for decades, turned out to be a first-rate study of Bolshevik agrarian policies during the early years of Soviet power, with special emphasis on the utopian civil war policies known as War Communism. After determining the manuscript's authorship, Patenaude’s subsequent efforts led to its publication in Russia as Sotsializatsiia zemli v Rossii [Socialization of the Land in Russia] (Novosibirsk: Sibirskii khronograf, 2001), which Patenaude edited, together with a team of his Russian colleagues.

Patenaude taught for eight years (1992–2000) in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where his outstanding performance as a classroom instructor was recognized with the Schieffelin Award for Teaching Excellence for two consecutive years, 1998 and 1999. His book reviews regularly appear in the Wall Street Journal. He was educated at Boston College and the University of Vienna and received his PhD in history from Stanford.

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Recent Commentary

Operation Tagil

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Paris archive of the imperial Russian secret police is among Hoover’s most treasured holdings. How it landed on the Stanford campus is a cloak-and-dagger tale worthy of the collection.


Biden Is To FDR As Trump Is To ... Hoover?

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia The Hill
Monday, December 7, 2020

By the latest count, President-elect Biden won more than 51 percent of the popular vote in this year's presidential election, a larger total than received by any candidate challenging an incumbent president since Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in a landslide in 1932.

“Dear Mr. President-elect . . . ”

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 19, 2020

While a banking crisis deepens in early 1933, outgoing president Herbert Hoover makes an extraordinary gesture: a letter to his successor, Franklin Roosevelt, seeking his help.

Analysis and Commentary

‘The Nazi Spy Ring In America’ Review: Hoover Was Furious

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, October 8, 2020

It was the FBI’s first major espionage case. On Feb. 14, 1938, a U.S. Army deserter named Guenther Rumrich, the Chicago-born son of a European diplomat, was arrested after trying to secure 35 blank United States passports by posing as Secretary of State Cordell Hull.


‘The Nazi Spy Ring In America’ Review: Hoover Was Furious

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, October 8, 2020

[Subscription Required] The New York Post headline read: ‘Ace G-man Bares German Conspiracy to Paralyze United States!’ Anger, and a movie, followed.

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Race Against Anarchy

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

Even after the Great War ended, famine and chaos threatened Europe. Herbert Hoover rescued the continent, reviving trade, rebuilding infrastructure, and restoring economic order, holding a budding Bolshevism in check.

In the News

‘The Russian Job’ Review: Feeding The Enemy

featuring Herbert Hoover, Bertrand M. Patenaudevia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, December 16, 2019

Few remember that in the early 1920s America supplied food to a starving Soviet Union, quite possibly preventing its collapse.


Bert Patenaude: Alexander Kerensky: Overthrown By The Bolsheviks

interview with Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Stanford and the Twentieth Century
Monday, November 11, 2019

Stanford professor Bert Patenaude joins Daniel to examine the singular life of Alexander Kerensky, the Russian revolutionary overthrown by the Bolsheviks in 1917. 

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Defining Moments

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Hoover Institution Press
Thursday, August 15, 2019

A century ago, amid the devastation of World War I, Herbert Hoover established a collection of library and archival materials at Stanford University devoted to the causes and consequences of war. Founded as the Hoover War Collection in 1919, the institution has evolved into one of the world’s premier research centers devoted to the advanced study of politics, economics, and international affairs.

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Solzhenitsyn Was Here

by Bertrand M. Patenaudevia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The celebrated Soviet exile came, did some research in the Hoover Archives, and began his scrutiny of the American scene. Notes on a memorable visitor.