Stephen Kotkin

Senior Fellow / National Fellow 2010–11
Research Team: 
Biography: 

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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Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Sustainability And The Need For Practicality Over Ideology

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Friday, September 24, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin warns that the sustainability debate needs to become less ideological and more practical. He added that policy on a carbon price would do more to counter climate change than Biden’s huge infrastructure spend.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Why Greenwashing Is Pervasive

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin says greenwashing is pervasive and it’s no mystery why, since governments continue to sign on to mandates they cannot meet, and investors pledge commitments they cannot redeem, creating a lucrative industry in greenwashing.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin On China’s Education And Human Capital Challenge

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Thursday, June 10, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin discusses whether the biggest threat to Chinese growth is the lack of education and skills of its people.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Taiwan, Geopolitical Tension And China’s Inevitable Rise In Indices

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Friday, April 30, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin discusses China’s challenges as they seek to become a market economy, but with the essence of a socialist system struggling with political, economic, social and cultural rights and interests.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin On Carothers’ View: Democracy In Trouble

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Monday, January 4, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin discusses the crisis in democracy with Thomas Carothers.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Biden’s Headwinds; Trump Phenomena Fades

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Friday, December 11, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin examines global trends and looks at where there may be geopolitical risk under a Biden presidency.

Interviews

Biden’s Win Repudiates Both Trump And Democracy Doubters: Stephen Kotkin

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin notes that the victory of Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the US general election is a “double repudiation” not just of Trump but of the “democracy in crisis crowd” who thought American democracy was under threat.

InterviewsPolitics

Mistrust And The ‘Polarisation Industry’: Stephen Kotkin On What’s Ailing The US

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Monday, November 2, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin discusses the polarization in America and how we come together to rebuilt America.

In the News

Sustainability Lacks Global Solidarity

featuring Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Princeton University Professor of International Affairs, Stephen Kotkin explains why large global investors and multinationals can lead on sustainability but national governments fail.

Illusions of Change

by Peter M. Robinson interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

China was supposed to have transformed itself into a modern, democratic state by now, but this was not to be. What went wrong—and what should the United States do now? A conversation with Hoover fellow Stephen Kotkin.

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