Stephen F. Cohen

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For other persons with a similar name, see Stephen Cohen.
Stephen Frand Cohen
Born 1938
Occupation Author and Historian
Language English
Nationality American
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Education MA, BA, P.H.D
Alma mater Indiana University, Columbia University
Spouse Lynne Blair (divorced), Katrina vanden Heuvel
Children 1 son, 2 daughters

Stephen Frand Cohen (born 1938) is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. His academic work concentrates on modern Russian history since the Bolshevik Revolution and the country's relationship with the United States.

Education and career[edit]

Stephen F. Cohen's grandfather, while speaking only Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish, emigrated from Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) to the United States.[2] Stephen Cohen was born in 1938 in Owensboro, Kentucky where his father owned a golf course,[3] and attended Indiana University, where he earned a B.S. degree and an M.A. degree in Russian Studies. While studying in England, he went on a four-week trip to the Soviet Union, where he became interested in its history and politics. Cohen, who received his Ph.D. in government and Russian studies at Columbia University, became a professor of politics and Russian studies at Princeton University in 1968, where he taught until 1998, and has been teaching at New York University since.

Cohen is well known in both Russian and American circles. He is a close personal friend of former Soviet Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev, advised former U.S. Pres. George H.W. Bush in the late 1980s, helped Nikolai Bukharin's widow, Anna Larina, rehabilitate her name during the Soviet era, and met Joseph Stalin's daughter, Svetlana.[citation needed]

Since 1998, Cohen has been professor of Russian Studies and History at New York University, where he teaches a course titled "Russia Since 1917." He previously taught at Princeton University. He has written several books including those listed below. He is also a CBS News consultant as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cohen has a son and a daughter from his first marriage to opera singer Lynne Blair, from whom he is divorced. Cohen is now married to Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the progressive magazine The Nation, where he is also a contributing editor. They have one daughter.

Position on relations between USA and Russia[edit]

During the 2014 unrest in Ukraine, Cohen drew criticism for his supposedly "pro-Russian" views[4] with sources describing him as an apologist for Putin[5][6] and the Russian government.[4] Cohen personally describes himself as an American "dissenter"[7] and argues that the media stifles anyone who even tries to understand the situation from the Kremlin's perspective while stigmatizing everyone as a Putin apologists for doing so.[7]

In an article in The Nation, Cohen alleged the silence of the US political-media establishment about Kiev's atrocities; the article was in turn criticized by Cathy Young.[8]

Cohen maintains that the USA has resumed the Cold War that in 1991 was officially declared as ended, without admitting this to themselves. The stinted interpretation of an "American victory" and a "Russian defeat" since the time of Bill Clinton had led to treating post-communist Russia like a defeated nation, even though her military potential inherited from the USSR was still fully intact. This "triumphalism" had led to the expectation that Russia would copy the common practice of completely submitting to the American foreign policy. Public shows of friendship like those between Clinton and Boris Yeltsin were without real value taking into account the real background. Clinton, contrary to the promise of his predecessor, extended NATO eastward and implemented a strategy of containment. Russia inevitably reacted with suspicion. Moreover, Cohen cites the cancellation of the ABM-treaty in 2002 and the refusal of admission to the WTO at he G8-summit in Sankt Petersburg 2006. Cohen also criticises the "pointless demonization"" of Vladimir Putin as an „autocrat“.[9][10]



  • Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War ISBN 978-0231148979 Pub. 2011 by Columbia University Press
  • The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin ISBN 978-1-933002-40-8 Pub. 2010 by PublishingWorks
  • Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War ISBN 978-0-231-14896-2 Pub. 2009 by Columbia University Press
  • Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia ISBN 978-1-933002-40-8 Updated edition Pub. 2000 by W. W. Norton & Company
  • Voices of Glasnost: Interviews With Gorbachev's Reformers ISBN 978-0-393-02625-2 Pub. 1989 by W W Norton & Co Inc
  • Sovieticus: American Perceptions and Soviet Realities ISBN 978-0-393-30338-4 Pub. 1986 by W W Norton & Co.
  • Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History since 1917 ISBN 978-0-19-504016-6 Pub.1985 by Oxford University Press
  • An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union, from Roy Medvedev's Underground Magazine "Political Diary" ISBN 978-0-393-30127-4 Pub.1982 Norton
  • Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938 ISBN 978-0-19-502697-9 Pub.1980 by Oxford University Press

Essays - Articles[edit]

  • The Friends and Foes of Change. Reformism and Conservatism in the Soviet Union in: Alexander Dallin/Gail W. Lapidus (eds.): The Soviet System. From Crisis to Collapse, Westview Press, Boulder/San Francisco/Oxford 2005 ISBN 0-8133-1876-9


  • Stephen Cohen's lectures, Russia Since 1917. Spring Semester, 2008. NYU.

External links[edit]