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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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.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Did Putin Get The Origins Of World War II Right?

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia National Interest
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin weighs in on the validity of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s depiction of the diplomacy in the 1930s leading up to the second world war.

Featured

Still Standing

by Stephen Kotkinvia Times Literary Supplement
Friday, July 10, 2020
Cemeteries are full of presidents for life. Whistling past the graveyard last week, Vladimir Putin forced through a plebiscite to zero out the constitutional limits on his rule.
Interviews

Stephen Kotkin’s Mega Trends: Deadends & Despair

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Top 1000 Funds
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin talks about how political regimes around the world are stuck in a series of dead-ends and despair. Most importantly, the China-US relationship has hit a brick wall as their fundamentally different values and interests clash, and a robust policy is the only way forward.

Stephen Kotkin: China, Russia, and American Freedom

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Hoover Virtual Policy Briefings
Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing with Stephen Kotkin: China, Russia, and American Freedom 
Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 11AM PT/ 2PM ET.

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Stephen Kotkin: China, Russia, And American Freedom | Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Hoover Podcasts
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Stephen Kotkin Discusses China, Russia, And American Freedom.

In the News

Globalisation’s Second Death And The ‘Weirding’ Of Investment Risk

featuring Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The disintegration of globalisation is a path the world has walked down before, according to Professor Stephen Kotkin, and while there are lessons we can learn from previous exposures the most pressing for investors is that a fundamental shift in the way we assess risk is needed.

Interviews

Stephen Kotkin: Globalisation’s Second Death And The ‘Weirding’ Of Investment Risk

interview with Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Stephen Kotkin talks about how the disintegration of globalization is a path the world has walked down before and while there are lessons we can learn from history.

In the News

Princeton's Kotkin Sees Danger Ahead For Policymakers

featuring Stephen Kotkinvia Investment Magazine
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stephen Kotkin said "there is no such thing as after COVID." Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin said governments were approaching a “dangerous ...

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