Last night in London, the 9th Pushkin House Book Prize was awarded to Archie Brown, Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, for “The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan and Thatcher and the End of the Cold War,” published by Oxford University Press.
In giving the award, Fiona Hill, chair of the judges, said that this year was particularly rich in books worthy of commendation, but that the winning book “represents the very best in Western scholarship on Russia and comparative politics. 'The Human Factor' is in many respects the culmination of Archie Brown’s long and distinguished career as a scholar and a writer. It is full of a lifetime’s achievement of wisdom and insight.”
Archie Brown is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of the British Academy, and an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written extensively about the former Soviet Union and its demise, including “The Gorbachev Factor” and “The Rise and Fall of Communism,” which both won the Alec Nove Prize and the Political Studies Association’s W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize for year’s best books on politics.
Brown’s book was one of six shortlisted volumes that offered new research, insights and information about the Soviet Union and Russia. The other books nominated were “Putin’s People” by Catherine Belton; “Late Stalinism” by Evgeny Dobrenko; “The Lockhart Plot” by Jonathan Schneer; “Leo Tolstoy” by Andrei Zorin; and “Moscow Monumental” by Katherine Zubovich.
The judges for the award change every year and include the author of the previous year’s winning book. This year that author and jury member was Sergei Medvedev, writer, journalist and professor at Moscow Free University whose “The Return of the Russian Leviathan” was the winner of the 2020 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. In addition to Fiona Hill, Robert Bosch senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, former deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, the jury consisted of Declan Donnellan, joint founder and artistic director of the theater company Cheek by Jowl, which established a company of Russian actors in 1999; George Robertson, Labor life peer, adviser to BP and former Secretary General of NATO and UK Defense Secretary; and Maria Stepanova, poet, essayist, journalist and author of “In Memory of Memory,” which was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.
The Pushkin House Book Prize has been awarded since 2013 to the author of the best book about Russia or the Russian-speaking world accessible to the general reader, and published in English for the first time in the previous calendar year. Translations from other languages are also eligible. The winner of the prize is awarded £10,000.
The award is designed to showcase, reward and encourage original, insightful and well-written books and to encourage public understanding and intelligent debate about Russia and its culture. It is funded by Douglas Smith — whose book “Former People: the Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy” was the first recipient of the award — and his wife Stephanie Ellis-Smith and The Polonsky Foundation.
The Pushkin House was founded in 1954 and is the oldest independent cultural center in the world to focus on Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet culture.
For more information about the Pushkin House, the Book Prize and the organization's other activities, see the site here.