Collected by Jan Oberg
October 6, 2020
Stephen Frand Cohen was an American scholar of Russian studies. His academic work concentrated on modern Russian history since the Bolshevik Revolution and Russia’s relationship with the United States. Cohen was a contributing editor to The Nation magazine, published and partially owned by his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Cohen was a founding director of the reestablished American Committee for East–West Accord which was revived in 2015. Wikipedia
Born Stephen Frand Cohen, November 25, 1938, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Died on September 18, 2020, New York City, U.S.
Considering him one of the most important, knowledgeable and wise voices, TFF is proud to have printed some of his articles and interviews here at The Transnational.
Here his many contributions to The Nation.
Bill Bradley, in The National Interest
A man who knew Russia: A tribute to Stephen F. Cohen
Mikhail Gorbachev sent these words about Steve to vanden Heuvel:
Please accept my sincere condolences on Steve’s passing. He was one of the closest people to me in his views and understanding of the enormous events that occurred in the late 1980s in Russia and changed the world.
Steve was a brilliant historian and a man of democratic convictions. He loved Russia, the Russian intelligentsia, and believed in our country’s future.
I always considered Steve and you my true friends. During perestroika and all the subsequent years, I felt your understanding and unwavering support. I thank you both.
Dear Katrina, I feel deep sympathy for your grief and I mourn together with you and Nika.
Blessed memory for Steve.
I embrace you,
And, finally, Diana Johnstone’s thoughts upon Cohen’s death:
“The death of Stephen Cohen is a huge loss to what little is left of public sanity in the United States. In recent years, when I heard him stand out alone against a chorus of vicious and dangerous lies, I regretted not having pursued my early path of Russian area studies in order to be there to back him up.
My youthful decision to change course was based on a perception that as a Russian expert during the Cold War, I would find myself in the false position of having to betray all friendship with the people I was studying. Indeed, the United States establishment increasingly selects its “Russia experts” from among embittered exiles who build their careers on hostility rather than understanding.
Stephen Cohen was the brilliant exception. He was not only a deeply rational, serious scholar. His wisdom drew on knowledge but also on generosity of spirit, on his inherent capacity to regard the people he studied as fellow human beings.
This should be normal, but alas, in a national elite blinded by its “exceptionalism”, fundamental human virtue has become a rare and precious quality. We who admired him cherish his memory and his example.”