Stephen Kotkin

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Stephen Kotkin
Stephen Kotkin speaking at Politics and Prose in March 2015
Stephen Kotkin speaking at Politics and Prose in March 2015
Born (1959-02-17) February 17, 1959 (age 60)
OccupationHistorian, academic, author
EducationB.A. (1981); M.A. (1983); Ph.D. (1988)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of Rochester
GenreRussian and Soviet politics and history, communism, global history
SubjectAuthoritarianism, geopolitics
Notable worksStalin, Vol. II, Waiting for Hitler, 1928–1941 (2017)
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] He has won a number of awards and fellowships, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

Kotkin's most recent book is his second of three planned volumes which discuss the life and times of the Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, namely Stalin, Vol. II, Waiting for Hitler, 1928–1941 (2017).

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 Soviet Union and then Russia multiple times for academic research and fellowships. He was a visiting scholar at the Russian Academy of Sciences (1993, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 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 in 1994 and 1997.[3]

Kotkin joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1989 and was the director of the Russian and Eurasian Studies Program for thirteen years (1995–2008) and is currently the co-director of the Certificate Program in History and Diplomacy (2015–present). He is 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. In 2001, he published Armageddon Averted, a short history of the fall of the Soviet Union.

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 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. [...] [T]his first volume leaves the reader longing for the story still to come".[4] The second volume Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 was published in late 2017.

Kotkin is currently writing the third volume on Stalin and Miscalculation and the Mao Eclipse (TBA). 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 ISBN 0962262900
1995 Rediscovering Russia in Asia: Siberia and the Russian Far East M. E. Sharpe ISBN 1563245469
1995 Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization Berkeley: University of California ISBN 0520069080
2001 Armageddon Averted: the Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 Oxford and New York: Oxford University; paperback with new preface, 2003; updated edition 2008 ISBN 0192802453
2002 Political Corruption in Transition: A Sceptic's Handbook Co-authored with András Sajó Central European University Press ISBN 9639241466
2003 The Cultural Gradient: The Transmission of Ideas in Europe, 1789–1991 Co-authored with Catherine Evtuhov Rowman & Littlefield ISBN 0742520625
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 ISBN 978-0679642763
2010 Manchurian Railways and the Opening of China: An International History Edited with Bruce A. Elleman M. E. Sharpe ISBN 978-0765625144
2014 Historical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe Co-edited with Mark Beissinger Cambridge University Press ISBN 1107054176
2014 Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928[5] Penguin Press ISBN 1594203792
2017 Stalin: Volume II: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 Penguin Press ISBN 978-1594203800


  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.
  5. ^ Stephen Kotkin. Stalin, Volume 1: Paradoxes of Power. New York: Vintage Books.

External links[edit]