American Elephants


Historian Richard Pipes Has Died at age 94. by The Elephant's Child

Richard Pipes, an invaluable historian of Russia, an aide to President Reagan, has died at age 94. He spent his entire academic career at Harvard, and took his place in the front rank of Russian historians with the publication of Russia Under the Old Regime in 1974.

He had a notable public career, but he regarded himself as first and foremost as a historian of Russian history, politics, and culture. He abandoned chronology and treated his subject by themes, such as the peasantry, the church, the machinery of the state and the intelligentsia. One of his most original contributions was to locate many of Russia’s woes in its failure to evolve beyond its status as a patrimonial state — nullifying the concepts of private property and individual freedom. Everything belonged to the head of the state.

You might want to start with his Modern Library book on Communism as a good introduction. I prize his Property and Freedom. He was a little uncomfortable taking on the subject as a departure from his Russian histories, but it was an important book.

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