Archie Brown wins 2021 Pushkin House Book Prize

The Human Factor book cover by Archie Brown

Archie Brown wins 2021 Pushkin House Book Prize

29 October 2021

28 October 2021

Archie Brown, Emeritus Professor of St Antony's Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, has won the Ninth Annual Pushkin House Book Prize of £10,000 for The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan and Thatcher and the End of the Cold War (Oxford University Press)

Archie Brown’s book analyses the role of political leadership in the Cold War's ending, and shows why the popular view that Western economic and military strength left the Soviet Union with no alternative but to admit defeat is wrong.

A prestigious jury unveiled its decision at an Award Dinner for the prize which recognises the best non-fiction writing published for the first time during 2020 in English about the Russian-speaking world. 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.

Fiona Hill, chair of the judges, said: “Putting together the shortlist was especially difficult in a banner year for books on Russia. All are worthy of commendation and readers’ attention. The overall winner 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.”

The panel of judges for 2021 was led by 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 and author of the new book There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century.

Its other members were Declan Donnellan, joint founder and artistic director of the theatre company Cheek by Jowl, which established a company of Russian actors in 1999; Sergei Medvedev, writer, journalist and professor at Moscow Free University and author of The Return of the Russian Leviathan, winner of the 2020 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize; George Robertson, Labour life peer, adviser to BP and former Secretary General of NATO and UK Defence Secretary; and Maria Stepanova, poet, essayist, journalist and author of In Memory of Memory, shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

Douglas Smith, a funder of the prize with his wife Stephanie Ellis-Smith, said: “Archie Brown’s nuanced and convincing new book offers one of the best accounts to date of just what, and who, the key drivers were that brought about the end of the Cold War. The Human Factor is certain to become an indispensable book on late 20th-century history.”

Marc Polonsky, managing trustee of The Polonsky Foundation, co-funder of the prize, said: “Once again, the Pushkin House Book Prize has demonstrated the calibre and variety of contemporary writing about the Russian-speaking world. Congratulations to Archie Brown on being the worthy winner selected from such a competitive field."