Archie Brown

Archie Brown


Emeritus Professor of Politics
St Antony's College

After teaching for thirty-four years at St Antony’s College, Archie Brown became Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University and an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s from 1 October 2005. He continues to undertake an active programme of research and writing.

Professor Brown was University Lecturer in Soviet Institutions from 1971 until 1989, and from 1989 to 2005 Professor of Politics. He was Sub-Warden of St Antony’s College, 1995-97, and Director of the Russian and East European Centre (as it was then called), 1991-94 and 1998-2001. He was Director of Graduate Studies in Politics for the University from 2001 until 2003.

After studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science as an undergraduate and graduate student, Archie Brown taught at Glasgow University from 1964 to 1971. During the 1967-68 academic year he was a British Council exchange scholar at Moscow State University. He has been Visiting Professor of Political Science at Yale; the University of Connecticut; Columbia University; and the University of Texas at Austin as the holder of the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Chair of Government. In the Fall semester of 1998 he was Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame.

Archie Brown’s book, The Gorbachev Factor (Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1996) won the W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association of the UK for the best political science book of its year and the Alec Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for best book or article on Russia, Communism or Post-Communism. He was a winner of both of these prizes for a second time when they were awarded for his book, The Rise and Fall of Communism (Bodley Head, London; Ecco, New York; Doubleday, Toronto, 2009; Vintage paperback, 2010). His most recent book, a comparative-historical study, is, The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age, Bodley Head, London, and Basic Books, New York, 2014 (Vintage paperback, London, 2015). Bill Gates, who read the book in 2016, named it as one of the best five books he read that year, an accolade that has a bigger impact on sales than academic prizes.

Professor Brown was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1991 and was Chair of the Academy’s Political Studies Section, 1999-2002. He was chosen as a founding academician of the Academy of Social Sciences in 1999, and in 2003 he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005 he was awarded a CMG in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list ‘for services to UK-Russian relations and to the study of political science and international affairs’. In November 2010 Archie Brown was one of three recipients of the Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement in Political Studies awards made by the Political Studies Association to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the PSA.

He also received the 2015 Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies Award in Philadelphia in November 2015 from the largest body of scholars studying that part of the world, the US-based Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.


Archie Brown’s principal research interests are the Gorbachev era, the evolution of Communism, leadership politics (including the UK), transition from authoritarian rule, political culture, and the Cold War.

Political Theory Government Authority Democratic theory Democracy and Democratisation Foreign Policy and diplomacy History Ideology Public Policy Public Sphere

Recent publications (since 2005)


Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2007 (Chinese translation, Beijing, 2012)

The Rise and Fall of Communism, London, Bodley Head; New York, Ecco; and Toronto, Doubleday, 2009 (translations published in Germany and the Netherlands, 2009; Portugal, 2010; the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Brazil, 2011; Israel and Japan, 2012; and Russia, 2014)

The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age, Bodley Head, London, and Basic Books, New York, 2014 (Vintage paperback, 2015).

Articles and chapters

‘Comparative Politics: A View from Britain’, APSA-CP (Newsletter of the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association), 16 (1), 2005, pp. 1-5

‘Conclusions’ in Stephen Whitefield (ed.), Political Culture and Post-Communism, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, St Antony’s Series, 2005, pp. 180-202.

‘Perestroyka i pyat’ transformatsiy’ [Perestroika and Five Transformations] in V.B. Kuvaldin (ed.), Proryv k svobode: o perestroyke dvadtsat’ let spustya – kriticheskiy analiz, Moscow, Al’pina, 2005, pp. 46-65

‘The Gorbachev Era’ in Ronald G. Suny (ed.), The Cambridge History of Russia, Vol. III, Cambridge and New York, 2006, pp. 316-351

‘Cultural Change and Continuity in the Transition from Communism: The Russian Case’ in Lawrence E. Harrison and Peter Berger (eds), Developing Cultures: Case Studies, New York, Routledge, 2006, pp. 387-405

‘The End of the Cold War’ in O.M. Zdravomyslova (ed.), Gorbachevskie chteniya (Gorbachev Foundation, Moscow, 2006), pp. 248-252

‘Perestroika and the End of the Cold War’ in Cold War History, Vol. 7, No. 1, February 2007, pp. 1-17

‘Gorbachev, Lenin, and the Break with Leninism’, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2007, pp. 230-244 (Russian translation published in Polis, Moscow, No. 6, 2007, pp. 71-85)

‘The Change to Engagement in Britain’s Cold War Policy: The Origins of the Thatcher-Gorbachev Relationship’, Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, Summer 2008, pp. 3-47

‘Reading Russia: Forms without Substance’, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, No. 2, April 2009, pp. 47-51

'Explaining the Fall of European Communism in 1989', British Academy Review, No. 14, November 2009, pp. 18-21.

‘The Gorbachev Revolution’ in Melvin P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (eds), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Vol. III, Cambridge and New York, 2010, pp. 244-266

‘Signposts: Why did Communism end when it did?’, History Today, Vol. 60, No. 3, March 2010, pp. 60-61

‘Perestroika as Revolution from Above’ in Stephen Fortescue (ed.), Russian Politics from Lenin to Putin (Palgrave Macmillan, St Antony’s series, Basingstoke, 2010), pp. 127-151

'The Fatal Contradictions of Marxism: A Rejoinder', Quarterly Review, Vol. 4, No.2, 2010, pp. 51-54

‘Margaret Thatcher and Perceptions of Change in the Soviet Union’, Journal of European Integration History, No. 31, 2010, pp. 17-31

‘Gorbachev and Perestroika: A Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Perspective’, Baltic Worlds, Vol. III, No. 3, September 2010, pp. 22-26

Entries on Coup in the USSR (1991), Gorbachev, New Thinking, Perestroika, ‘Real Socialism’, Shevardnadze, Suslov, and Yakovlev in Silvio Pons and Robert Service (eds), A Dictionary of 20th-Century Communism (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2010)

‘Dvadtsat’ let spustya: chto dalo vozmozhnost’ polozhit’ konets kommunizmu v Sovetskom Soyuze’ [Twenty Years After: How was it possible to put an end to Communism in the Soviet Union?] in Vestnik analitiki (Moscow), No. 3 (41), 2010, pp. 5-11

'Why did Communism end in Europe and mutate in Asia?', The Journal of International Relations (Taiwan), No. 30, 2010, pp. 1-14

'The Gorbachev Factor Revisited', Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 58, Nos. 4-5, 2011, pp. 56-65

'Margaret Thatcher and the End of the Cold War' in Wm. Roger Louis (ed.), Resurgent Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain (I.B. Tauris, London, 2011), pp. 259-273

'Did Gorbachev as General Secretary Become a Social Democrat?', Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 65, No. 2, 2013, pp. 198-220.

'Communism' in Michael Freeden, Lyman Tower Sargent and Marc Stears (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013, pp. 364-384

(with Stephen Whitefield), 'The Study of Communist and Post-Communist Politics' in Christopher Hood, Desmond King and Gillian Peele (eds), Forging a Discipline: A Critical Assessment of Oxford's Development of the Study of Politics and International Relations in Comparative Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014, pp. 246-263

'Alfred Stepan and the Study of Comparative Politics' (review article), Government and Opposition, Vol. 49, No. 2, April 2014, pp. 313-330

'Mikhail Gorbachev' in Joel Krieger (ed.), The Oxford Companion to International Relations, Oxford University Press, New York, 2014, Vol. 1, pp. 378-381

‘Questioning the Mythology of the Strong Leader’, Leadership, DOI:10.1177/174271501559066, pp. 1-10 and Vol. 11, No. 3, August 2015

‘Mikhail Gorbachev’ in Steven Casey and Jonathan Wright (eds), Mental Maps in the Era of Détente and the End of the Cold War (Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2015), pp. 216-235

‘The Scottish Question in British Politics’ in Wm Roger Louis (ed.), Resplendent Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain (Tauris, London, 2015), pp. 355-367

‘The End of the Soviet Union’, review article in Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol.. 17, No. 4, pp.158-165, 2015, DOI: 10.1162/JCWS_a_00600, pp. 1-8

‘Politicheskoe liderstvo i politicheskaya vlast’’ [Political Leadership and Political Power], Polis: Politicheskie issledovaniya (Moscow), No. 1, 2016, pp. 104-120, DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2016.01.08

‘Against the Führerprinzip: For Collective Leadership’, Daedalus, Vol. 145, No. 3, 2016, pp. 109-123, DOI: 10.1162/DAED_a_00401

Selected Publications