2015 Distinguished Contributions Award Recipient Archie Brown
No other social scientist has done more than Professor Archie Brown to shape the study of Soviet and Russian domestic politics in the English-speaking world—or, indeed, to tie together the Soviet and post-Soviet eras and the American, European, and Russian social science communities.
Professor Emeritus of Politics at Oxford University, Brown is the author of influential edited volumes, articles in his discipline’s leading journals, and landmark single-author studies. His Soviet Politics and Political Science (1974) was the first major attempt to understand the evolution of the Soviet system using many of the tools of analysis available to students of non-communist polities. In the 1980s, Brown turned to a subject that would make him known well beyond academia: Mikhail Gorbachev and the transformational years of glasnost’ and perestroika. His long engagement with the Gorbachev phenomenon culminated in his monumental, prize-winning study The Gorbachev Factor (1996), but well before that, he had established himself as the world’s leading authority on the General Secretary and the reformist group that originally surrounded him. In a meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in September 1983, Brown had already described Gorbachev as perhaps the most reform-minded of the Soviet leadership team. According to the memoirs of Thatcher’s associates, that meeting pushed the Prime Minister toward inviting Gorbachev to visit Britain in late 1984, an occasion for which Brown was again called upon to brief the British Prime Minister.
Since retiring from active teaching in 2005, Brown has continued to be a publishing powerhouse. His retrospective analysis of Gorbachev and the perestroika years was published as Seven Years That Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (2007). His exhaustively researched comparative study The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009) was hailed by the New York Times as “consistently superb” and by The Economist as the best single-volume account of the twentieth century’s grandest political experiment. His newest book, The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age (2014), draws on Brown’s long experience as a student of leadership in many different countries and political contexts and has been praised as a major comparative work by reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic and across the ideological spectrum.
In addition to his research and his engagement with public policy, Brown has been a beloved teacher and dissertation supervisor, whose former doctoral students now occupy academic and administrative positions at leading universities in the US, Great Britain, and Russia, as well as at a variety of think tanks, businesses, and international organizations. For his truly global reputation and his fundamental contributions to the study of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation, the possibilities of enlightened leadership, and the sources of political transformation, ASEEES is pleased to bestow upon Professor Archie Brown the Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award.