Robert Service

Senior Fellow

Robert Service, a noted Russian historian and political commentator, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford.

His research interests concern Russian history and politics in all its aspects, from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Service was awarded the 2009 Duff Cooper Prize for his biography Trotsky (Harvard University Press, 2009).

His most recent publication is Russia and Its Islamic World (Hoover Institution Press, 2017). He is the author of Spies and Commissars: Russia and the West in the Bolshevik Revolution (McMillan, 2011), Dictionary of 20th Century Communism (Princeton University Press, 2010) coedited with Silvio Pons, The Russian Revolution 1900–1927, 4th edition (London, 2009); author of Lenin: A Biography (London, 2000); “Architectural Problems of Reform in the Soviet Union: From Design to Collapse” in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 2 (2001); Russia: Experiment with a People (London and Harvard, 2002); “Stalinism and the Soviet State Order” in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 1 (2003); A History of Modern Russia. From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century, 3rd edition, expanded and updated (London and Cambridge, MA, 2009); Stalin: A Biography (London and Cambridge, MA, 2004); “Military Policy, International Relations and Soviet Security after October 1917,” in Russia: War, Peace and Diplomacy. Essays in Honour of John Erickson (London, 2004); “Soviet Political Leadership and 'Sovietological' Modelling,” in Leading Russia: Putin in Perspective: Essays in Honour of Archie Brown (Oxford , 2005); and Comrades: A World History of Communism (London and Cambridge, MA, 2007).

Service holds an MA in modern languages from the University of Cambridge and an MA and a PhD in government from the University of Essex.

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Recent Commentary

The 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The 30th Anniversary Of The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

featuring Peter M. Robinson, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Kotkin, David Holloway, Timothy Garton Ash, Norman M. Naimark, Niall Ferguson, Robert Service, Victor Davis Hanson, Michael McFaul, Amir Weinervia Hoover Daily Report
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Peter Robinson as well as many scholars and historians review the history of the Berlin Wall.

Analysis and Commentary

Five Myths About The Romanovs

by Robert Servicevia The Washington Post
Friday, October 26, 2018

The Romanovs celebrated their dynasty’s tricentennial in 1913 – just five years before communists gunned down Nicholas II and his family in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg. Under Romanov rule, which began in 1613 with Mikhail Romanov, Russia grew to become the biggest land empire in the world. These czars’ talents and foibles have long fascinated historians, the public and artists; a new Amazon series tells eight fictionalized stories of people who believe they are Romanov descendants. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) 

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Russia And The World of Islam: Within And Without

by Robert Servicevia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Of all the world's great powers, Russia has the longest and most tangled experience of Islam at home and abroad. Muslims have led or taken part in revolts.  Chechnya is only the latest such rebellion against Russian rule. Tsars, commissars, and now presidents have had to contend with internal difficulties that are aggravated by external Islamic interference. They have also intervened actively in Muslim countries in the "near abroad" and in the Middle East. This makes for danger in world politics.

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The Strongman’s Weak Hand

by Robert Servicevia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 20, 2018

To Vladimir Putin, meddling in other countries’ elections is how you make a lapsed superpower great again.

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Analysis and Commentary

How Not To Pressure Putin

by Robert Servicevia Foreign Policy
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Britain needs strategic patience, not shrill denunciations, to keep Russia in check.


Britain Must ‘Take Back Control’ From Russia

by Robert Servicevia The Spectator
Saturday, March 10, 2018

Putin relies on mischief and mayhem. We need to push back.


Russia Is Meddling In Western Politics As It Has Nothing To Lose

by Robert Servicevia The Guardian
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Putin knows Russia is no longer a superpower, but he can bolster his standing at home by destabilising the west.


Russia And The US Are Jittery About Spies. But Facts Are Hard To Come By

by Robert Servicevia The Guardian
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Amid the allegations swirling around Washington sits a private company called the Kaspersky Lab. But beyond that, nothing is clear.

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Russia Wrestles With Islam

by Robert Servicevia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Putin merely poses as the Muslim's world's best friend. 

Russia and Its Islamic World

by Robert Servicevia Hoover Institution Press
Friday, July 14, 2017

In Russia and Its Islamic World, Robert Service discusses Russia’s long and difficult relationship with Islam, within its borders and across the world, from the thirteenth century to the present. He maps Russia’s complex and sometimes contradictory interactions with its Muslims, nearby Muslim states, and the Middle East, exploring centuries of Russian territorial expansion and occupation, Muslim jihad, the Soviet assault on Islam, the fall of the Soviet Union, and Russia’s current bid to reestablish itself as a world power.


Spies and Commissars: Russia and the West in the Bolshevik Revolution

 Spies and Commissars: Russia and the West in the Bolshevik Revolution, Service's most recent book.