Stephen Kotkin

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Stephen Kotkin
2015-Mar-11 Stephen Kotkin Politics and Prose.jpg
Stephen Kotkin, discussing his book, Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 at Politics and Prose book store, Washington, D.C., 11 March 2015
Born (1959-02-17) February 17, 1959 (age 56)
Occupation historian, academic, author
Nationality American
Education B.A. (1981); M.A. (1983); Ph.D. (1988)
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
University of Rochester
Genre Russian and Soviet Politics and History, Communism, Global History
Subject Authoritarianism, Geopolitics
Notable works Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 (2014)
Armageddon Averted: the Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 (2001)

Stephen Mark Kotkin (born February 17, 1959)[1] is an American historian, academic and author. He is currently a professor in history and international affairs at Princeton University and a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.[2]

Kotkin's most recent book is his first of three volumes planned on the life of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin: Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 (2014).

Academic career[edit]

Kotkin graduated from the University of Rochester in 1981 with a B.A. in English. He studied Russian and Soviet history under Reginald E. Zelnik and Martin Malia at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his M.A. in 1983 and his Ph.D. in 1988, both in history.[2]

Starting in 1986, Kotkin traveled to the former Soviet Union multiple times for academic research and fellowships. He was a visiting scholar at the Russian Academy of Sciences (1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2012),and its predecessor, the USSR Academy of Sciences (1991). He was also a visiting scholar at University of Tokyo's Institute of Social Science Institute in 1994 and 1997[3]

He joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1989, and was the director of in Russian and Eurasian Studies Program for 13 years (1995-2008). He is currently the John P. Birkelund '52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton. He is also a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.[2]


Kotkin has authored several nonfiction books on history as well as textbooks, and is perhaps best known for Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization, which exposes the realities of everyday life in the Soviet city of Magnitogorsk during the 1930s. He published Armageddon Averted, a short history of the fall of the Soviet Union, in 2001.

Kotkin is a frequent contributor on Russian and Eurasian affairs and writes book and film reviews for various publications, including The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Financial Times, The New York Times and the Washington Post. He also contributed as a commentator for NPR and the BBC.[3]

His first volume on the life of Joseph Stalin, a 900-page biography analyzing his life through 1928, received strong reviews. Jennifer Siegel of The New York Times called the biography "a riveting tale, one written with pace and aplomb.... this first volume leaves the reader longing for the story still to come."[4])

Kotkin is currently writing the second and third volumes on Stalin: Waiting for Hitler (planned for 2016) and Miscalculation and the Mao Eclipse (2019). He is also working on a multi-century history of Siberia, focusing on the Ob River Valley.[3]

His literary agent is Andrew Wylie.

Published works[edit]

Year Title Collaborator(s) Publisher ISBN
1991 Steeltown, USSR: Soviet Society in the Gorbachev Era Berkeley: University of California; paperback with afterword in 1993
1995 Rediscovering Russia in Asia: Siberia and the Russian Far East M. E. Sharpe
1995 Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization Berkeley: University of California
2001 Armageddon Averted: the Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 Oxford and New York: Oxford University; paperback with new preface, 2003; updated edition 2008
2002 Political Corruption in Transition: A Sceptic's Handbook Co-authored with András Sajó Central European University Press
2003 The Cultural Gradient: The Transmission of Ideas in Europe, 1789-1991 Co-authored with Catherine Evtuhov Rowman & Littlefield
2005 Korea at the Center: Dynamics of Regionalism in Northeast Asia Co-authored with Charles K. Armstrong, Gilbert Rozman, and Samuel S. Kim M. E. Sharpe
2009 Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of Communist Establishment With a contribution by Jan Gross New York: Modern Library/Random House
2014 Historical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe Co-edited with Mark Beissinger Cambridge University Press ISBN 1-107-05417-6
2014 Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 Penguin Press ISBN 1-594-20379-2


  1. ^ "Kotkin, Stephen". Library of Congress. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Department of History: Stephen Kotkin". Princeton University. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Stephen Kotkin. "Stephen Kotkin: Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Princeton University. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Jennifer Siegel (November 26, 2014). "‘Stalin,’ by Stephen Kotkin". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 

External links[edit]