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Tom Nichols (academic)

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Tom Nichols
Nichols in 2009
Thomas Michael Nichols

(1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 63)
  • Author
  • academic
Lynn Nichols
(m. 2014)
Academic background
Alma materBoston University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
Georgetown University (PhD)
ThesisThe politics of doctrine: Khrushchev, Gorbachev and the Soviet military (1988)
Academic work

Thomas Michael Nichols[1] (born December 7, 1960) is an American writer, academic specialist on international affairs, and retired professor at the U.S. Naval War College. His work deals with issues involving Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs.

Early life and education


Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Nichols grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he attended public schools in the 1960s and 1970s.[2][3] His paternal grandparents were Greek immigrants, and his mother is of Irish descent.[4][5] He stated in a speech at The Heritage Foundation that he did not come from an educated family, noting that his parents were "both Depression era kids who dropped out of high school".

Nichols was awarded a BA degree in political science from Boston University in 1983, an MA degree in political science from Columbia University in 1984, a certificate from the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in 1985, and a PhD in government from Georgetown University in 1988. His doctoral thesis was entitled The politics of doctrine: Khrushchev, Gorbachev and the Soviet military.[6]

Nichols is a five-time Jeopardy! champion, winning during regular season play in 1994. Nichols initially lost his fifth game, but was invited back due to "a clue discrepancy".[7] He later participated in the 1994 Tournament of Champions and the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions, losing in the quarterfinals[8] and the first round,[9] respectively. In a 2022 interview with Newsweek, Nichols advocated for the reinstatement of a five-day limit for winners that had been eliminated in 2003.[10]



Following completion of his doctorate at Georgetown University, in 1989 Nichols received a faculty appointment at Dartmouth College. He remained there until 1997, teaching political science and Russian affairs.[11][12]

Concurrent during his tenure at Dartmouth, Nichols served as legislative aide for defense and foreign affairs to U.S. Senator John Heinz (R-PA).[13][14]

In 1997, Nichols became professor of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College, a position he retained until 2008.[13] Subsequently, Nichols was named professor of national security affairs at the war college. He retired in 2022.[13] He also is a senior associate of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs that is based in Manhattan.

In 2005, Nichols was appointed to visiting and adjunct faculty roles at La Salle University and Harvard University, respectively.[13] Nichols was named a fellow at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2008.

He is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of one of the its electronic newsletters, The Atlantic Daily.[15]



Nichols registered with the Republican Party in 1979. He described himself in 2016 as a Never Trump conservative.[16] During the 2016 presidential campaign, Nichols argued that conservatives should vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he detested, because Trump was "too mentally unstable" to serve as commander-in-chief.[17] Nichols continued that type of argument for the 2018 midterm elections and advocated that Republicans could save the party by electing as many Democrats as possible in that election.[18]

Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, Nichols announced on October 7, 2018, that he would leave the Republican Party to become an independent. He claimed that Senator Susan Collins's "yes" vote on the confirmation convinced him that the Republican Party exists to exercise raw political power.[19] He stated that the Republicans had become a threat to the rule of law and to constitutional norms. Nichols also criticized the Democratic Party for being "torn between totalitarian instincts on one side and complete political malpractice on the other". He said that with the exception of Senators Chris Coons, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Amy Klobuchar, the behavior of the members of the Democratic party during the Kavanaugh hearings was "detestable".[19]

In an opinion column published in 2019, Nichols cited the Mueller Report to argue that Trump failed in his role as a citizen and then as commander-in-chief, by not doing more to prevent and punish the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[20] In April 2022, Nichols was quoted regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating: "If Putin's goal was to cement his grip on power by making Russia hated for decades to come, well, congratulations, I guess."[21]

Personal life


After his previous marriage ended in divorce, Nichols married Lynn in 2014.[22][23] Nichols has one daughter; the family lives in Middletown, Rhode Island.[24][11] He is a Greek Orthodox Christian.[25]

Nichols had a brief cameo role on the HBO television series Succession, appearing as right-wing political commentator Ben Stove in the episode entitled "America Decides".[26]




  • The Sacred Cause: Civil-Military Conflict over Soviet National Security, 1917-1992 (1993, Cornell University Press) ISBN 0801427746
  • The Russian Presidency: Society and Politics in the Second Russian Republic (1999, Palgrave Macmillan) ISBN 0312293372
  • Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War (2002, Praeger) ISBN 0275966631
  • Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War (2008, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812240669
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapons and NATO, (co-editor) (2012, Military Bookshop) ISBN 1584875259
  • No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security (2013, University of Pennsylvania Press) ISBN 0812245660
  • The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters (2017, Oxford University Press) ISBN 0190469412
  • Nichols, Tom (2021b). Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-751887-8.

See also



  1. ^ "29th National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies". Western Slavic Association. November 20–23, 1997. p. 46. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  2. ^ @RadioFreeTom (April 7, 2019). "I went to public schools in Chicopee, Massachusetts in the 60s and 70s. We had homework. It was part of a relativel…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ "Nichols, Thomas M. 1960-". Contemporary Authors. Gale Group. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  4. ^ Nichols, Tom [@RadioFreeTom] (August 2, 2022). "My Greek grandparents, 1913. My grandmother *NEVER* smiled. Like, I think I caught her smiling once or twice. That was about it" (Tweet). Retrieved September 18, 2022 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Nichols, Tom [@RadioFreeTom] (December 24, 2021). "My Greek immigrant grandmother taught my Irish-American mother to make Greek avgolemono soup; my mother taught my WASP first wife who taught my Russian daughter who just made an awesome batch of it that I scarfed down for Christmas Eve. Now that's America. *urp*" (Tweet). Retrieved September 18, 2022 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Nichols, Thomas M. (1988). The politics of doctrine: Khrushchev, Gorbachev and the Soviet military (Ph.D.). Georgetown University.
  7. ^ "J! Archive - Tom Nichols". j-archive.com. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  8. ^ "J! Archive - Show #2346, aired 1994-11-14". j-archive.com. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  9. ^ "J! Archive - Show #4739, aired 2005-03-24". j-archive.com. Retrieved January 28, 2023.
  10. ^ Former 'Jeopardy!' Champ Calls For Show to Reinstate Limit on Win Streaks
  11. ^ a b Tom Nichols. "Tom Nichols CV" (PDF).
  12. ^ Seriously Entertaining: Tom Nichols on "Long, Strange Trip", retrieved July 6, 2023
  13. ^ a b c d Nichols, Thomas. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Thomas M. Nichols CV. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  14. ^ "Thomas M. Nichols, Ph.D." U.S. Naval War College. Archived from the original on June 27, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  15. ^ "Tom Nichols". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  16. ^ "Never-Trump Confidential". New York Times Magazine. July 18, 2016. Archived from the original on July 24, 2016. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  17. ^ Kennedy, Dan (February 6, 2017). "Some calming thoughts on Trump coverage from a #NeverTrump conservative". Media Nation. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  18. ^ Tom Nichols (September 4, 2018). "Want to save the GOP, Republicans? Vote for every Democrat on this year's ballot". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Nichols, Tom (October 7, 2018). "Why I'm Leaving the Republican Party". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Nichols, Tom. "Mueller report: Donald Trump failed us as commander in chief". Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  21. ^ Richardson, Heather Cox, Letters from an American, Substack, April 2, 2022
  22. ^ Nichols, Tom [@RadioFreeTom] (July 20, 2021). "Do I know how to make a perfect fillet mignon? Well yes, I do. Lynn agrees, and so does Carla, who got some filet mignon officially making her the most spoiled cat in the universe. Lynn wants to know why we were married seven years before she knew I could do this" (Tweet). Retrieved September 18, 2022 – via Twitter.
  23. ^ Nichols, Tom [@RadioFreeTom] (June 11, 2022). "Eleven years ago, I was broke and divorced and living in a place in downtown Newport, but I had just found this silly cat and that was something. She seemed to like her new situation, too" (Tweet). Retrieved September 18, 2022 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ Gibson, Lydialyle (March–April 2018). "The Mirage of Knowledge". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  25. ^ Nichols, Tom [@RadioFreeTom] (March 8, 2022). "If you've noticed lately that I mention my own faith when talking about Russia's barbaric war, it's intentional. I am Greek Orthodox, and the Russian Orthodox Church's support of this war is obscene. This is where I remind you all I speak for no one but myself" (Tweet). Retrieved September 18, 2022 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Nichols, Tom (May 15, 2023). "What I Learned From My Guest Role on 'Succession'". The Atlantic.