Stephen F. Cohen

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For other persons with a similar name, see Stephen Cohen.
Stephen F. Cohen
Born Stephen Frand Cohen
(1938-11-25) November 25, 1938 (age 77)
Occupation Author and Historian
Language English
Nationality American
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 November 25, 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]

Cohen's family is Jewish.[1] His grandfather emigrated to the United States from Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) only able to speak Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish.[2]

Stephen Cohen was born in 1938 in Owensboro, Kentucky where his father owned a golf course,[3] and attended Indiana University Bloomington, 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,[4] 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,[5] 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.

Views on the Russian Federation[edit]


During the 2014 unrest in Ukraine, Cohen drew criticism for his "pro-Russian" views[6] with sources describing him as an apologist for Putin[7][8] and the Russian government.[6] Cohen personally describes himself as an American "dissenter"[9] and argues that the media stifles anyone who even tries to understand the situation from the Kremlin's perspective while stigmatizing them as Putin apologists for doing so.[9]

In an article in The Nation, Cohen alleged that the US political-media establishment was silent about "Kiev's atrocities"; the article was in turn criticized by Cathy Young.[10]

US-Russia relations[edit]

Cohen asserts that US foreign policy is responsible for the continuation of Cold War hostilities between the two countries despite its ostensible end in 1991, citing NATO's eastward expansion as evidence for his hypothesis.[11][12] His position on US-Russia relations has been criticized by Julia Ioffe.[13]

Munk Debate[edit]

Cohen participated in a Munk Debate over the proposal "Be it resolved the West should engage not isolate Russia…" He, together with Vladimir Posner, argued in favor. They were opposed by Anne Applebaum and Garry Kasparov. The opposing side gained 10% of the audience's vote over the course of the debate and won.[14]



  • Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War ISBN 978-0-231-14897-9 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


  1. ^ Joseph Berger (January 4, 2011). "Calling Steven Cohen. No, Not That One.". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Amerikietis istorikas bando Vakarams įrodyti, kad gulagų era buvo "kitas holokaustas"" [Interview with Cohen - American historian is trying prove to the West that the gulag era was "another Holocaust"] (in Lithuanian). March 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ms. vanden Heuvel Is Wed". The New York Times. December 5, 1988. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  4. ^ Dan Kovalik (July 8, 2015). "Rethinking Russia: A Conversation With Russia Scholar Stephen F. Cohen". Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ Nick Hayes (November 15, 2010). "Understanding U.S.-Russian relations: A conversation with Stephen F. Cohen". MinnPost. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b James Kirchick (June 17, 2014). "Meet the Anti-Semites, Truthers, and Alaska Pol at D.C.'s Pro-Putin Soiree". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  7. ^ Jonathan Chait (March 14, 2014). "The Pathetic Lives of Putin's American Dupes". New York. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ Isaac Chotiner (March 2, 2014). "Meet Vladimir Putin's American Apologist". New Republic. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Video on YouTube
  10. ^ Cathy Young (July 24, 2014). "Putin's Pal". Slate. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ Stephen F. Cohen (July 10, 2006). "The New American Cold War". The Nation. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  12. ^ Stephen F. Cohen (May 7, 2012). "Stop the Pointless Demonization of Putin". The Nation. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  13. ^ Julia Ioffe (May 1, 2014). "Putin's American Toady at 'The Nation' Gets Even Toadier". The New Republic. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The West vs. Russia". Munk Debates. April 10, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  • Stephen Cohen's lectures, Russia Since 1917. Spring Semester, 2008. NYU.

External links[edit]