Archie Brown

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Archibald Haworth Brown, CMG, FBA (born 10 May 1938), commonly known as Archie Brown, is a British political scientist and historian. In 2005, he became an emeritus professor of politics at the University of Oxford and an emeritus fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, where he served as a professor of politics and director of St Antony's Russian and East European Centre. He has written widely on Soviet and Russian politics, on communist politics more generally, on the Cold War, and on political leadership.


Brown was born in Annan, Scotland, and educated at Annan Academy and at Dumfries Academy, before studying as both undergraduate and graduate student at the London School of Economics (LSE). He taught at the University of Glasgow from 1964 to 1971, during which time he was a British Council exchange scholar at Moscow State University for the academic year 1967-68.[1]

He has been a visiting professor at Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Columbia University. He was also a visiting professor and holder of the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Chair of Government at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1998, he was a distinguished visiting fellow of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame[1] in Indiana.

At Oxford University, Brown was university lecturer in Soviet institutions from 1971 until 1989, when he became professor of politics. He held that position from 1989 to 2005. Concurrently, he was a sub-warden of St Antony's College between 1995 and 1997 and director of the Russian and East European Centre twice (from 1991 to 1994, and again from 1998 to 2001). He was director of graduate studies in politics for Oxford University between 2001 and 2003.[1]


Brown has written and edited numerous books on Soviet and Communist politics, and his articles have covered a wide range of subjects, including the end of the Cold War, British politics, post-Soviet Russian politics, political leadership, political culture, and 18th-century political and social thought. Several of his books deal with the Soviet perestroika and the role of Mikhail Gorbachev in the transformation of the Soviet system and the ending of the Cold War. They focus both on the power of ideas and on the power of institutions, putting Gorbachev's innovative leadership in its political context. For The Gorbachev Factor (1996), the Political Studies Association of the UK awarded Brown the W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize for "best political science book of the year". That book also shared the Alec Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) for "best book or article in any discipline on Russia, Communism or Postcommunism". In Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (2007; paperback 2008), Brown returned to these themes, making use of new and extensive archival material, including the records of Soviet Politburo meetings.

Archie Brown's book, The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009; UK paperback 2010; US paperback 2011) deals with communism worldwide – from its 19th-century origins to the fall of communism in Europe in 1989 and its adaptation and mutation in China. This book earned Brown the 2010 Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association, making him the recipient of "best political science book of the year" award for a second time. It also won the Nove Prize awarded by BASEES. In addition to its separate American, British and Canadian editions, the work has been published in translation in nine other countries.

Brown followed that with a still broader comparative-historical book – on political leadership worldwide since the dawn of the 20th century – The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age (2014; paperback, 2015).[2] Bill Gates named it as one of the five best books he read in 2016.[3][4] It has been translated into Arabic, Chinese (Taiwan), Czech, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.

His most recent book addresses the part played by political leadership in ending the Cold War. The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War was published in 2020.


Elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 1991, Brown chaired the Academy's Political Studies Section from 1999 to 2002 and was a member of the Council of the British Academy, 2014–2017. In 1999 he was chosen as a founding member of the Academy of Social Sciences, and he has been an international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2003. He was appointed as a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2005 "for services to UK-Russian relations and to the study of political science and international affairs".[1] In 2010 he became one of three scholars to receive the Diamond Jubilee Award for Lifetime Achievement in Political Studies. The Political Studies Association of the UK made the awards to mark the sixtieth anniversary of its foundation. In 2015 he received the Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award from ASEEES at their annual convention in Philadelphia.


  • Brown, A., Soviet Politics and Political Science, 1974 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-13751-5
  • Brown, A., Kaser, M., The Soviet Union Since the Fall of Khrushchev, 1975, 2nd ed., 1978 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-23337-9
  • Brown, A., Gray, J., Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States, 1977 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-21429-3
  • Rigby, T.H., Brown, A. and Reddaway, P. (eds), Authority, Power and Policy in the USSR, 1980 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-21429-3
  • Brown, A., Kaser, M., Soviet Policy for the 1980s, 1982 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-33140-0
  • Brown, A., Fennell, J., Kaser, M., Willetts, H.T. (eds), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1982 (Cambridge University Press), ISBN 0-521-23169-8
  • Brown, A., Political Culture and Communist Studies (ed), 1984 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-87332-310-6
  • Brown, A., Political Leadership in the Soviet Union (ed), 1989 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-253-31214-0
  • Brown, A., Biographical Dictionary of the Soviet Union (ed), 1990 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), ISBN 0-297-82010-9
  • Brown, A., (ed.), New Thinking in Soviet Politics, 1992 (Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-53440-9
  • Brown, A., Kaser, M., Smith, G.S. (eds), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union, 1994 (Cambridge University Press), ISBN 0-521-35593-1
  • Brown, A., The Gorbachev Factor, 1996 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-827344-4
  • Barry, B., Brown, A., Hayward, J. (eds), The British Study of Politics in the Twentieth Century, 1999; paperback 2003 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-726294-5
  • Brown, A., (ed.), Contemporary Russian Politics: A Reader, 2001 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-829999-0
  • Brown, A., Shevtsova, L. (eds), Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin: Political Leadership in Russia's Transition, 2001 (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), ISBN 0-87003-186-4
  • Brown, A. (ed), The Demise of Marxism-Leninism in Russia, 2004 (Palgrave Macmillan), ISBN 0-333-65124-3
  • Brown, A., Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective, 2007 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 978-0-19-956245-9
  • Brown, A., The Rise and Fall of Communism, 2009 (Ecco Press, HarperCollins; and Bodley Head, Random House), ISBN 978-0-06-113879-9
  • Brown, A., The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age, 2014 (Bodley Head, Random House; and Basic Books), ISBN 978-1-84-7921758
  • Brown, A., The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War, 2020 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 978-0-19-874870-0

Books in honour of Archie Brown[edit]

  • 'Archie Brown' in Pravda, A. (ed.), Leading Russia. Putin in Perspective: Essays in Honour of Archie Brown, 2005 (Oxford University Press), ISBN 0-19-927614-5
  • Stephen Whitefield (ed.), Political Culture and Post-Communism, 2005 (Palgrave Macmillan), ISBN 1-4039-4520-9
  • Julie Newton and William Tompson (eds), Institutions, Ideas and Leadership in Russian Politics, 2010 (Palgrave Macmillan), ISBN 978-0-230-55147-3


External links[edit]