Laureates 2012

2012 Past - History/Biography

Robert Conquest (July 1917 - August 2015)

Robert ConquestDr. Robert Conquest, British historian and renowned writer and researcher on the Soviet Union; Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities.

At a time when the Western academy was conspicuously uncritical of the Soviet regime, Robert Conquest almost single-handedly sought to expose the realities of Stalinist rule and has proved to be almost entirely accurate in his characterization of the Soviet policy in the 1930s.

His book The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties (1968) continues to be assigned by instructors teaching twentieth-century Russian history; Harvest of Sorrow exposed the horrors of the famine that resulted from the policy of collectivization; while The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities (1970) brilliantly anticipated much recent scholarship on “Stalin’s ethnic cleansing”. Conquest has been exceptionally prolific, publishing thirty-two books in his career, including eight  volumes of poetry. But his most enduring contribution will surely by The Great Terror.

Conquest’s achievement is all the more remarkable when one considers that he was systematically excluded from the Soviet archives, forcing him to be exceptionally creative in his research methods. Robert Conquest has been widely acclaimed. His honors include the Jefferson Lectureship (the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for achievement in the humanities), the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Rita Ricardo-Campbell and W. Glenn Campbell Uncommon Book Award, Poland's Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit, and Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, UK.

He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, and the British Interplanetary Society, as well as of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He has been a research fellow at the London School of Economics, a fellow of the Columbia University Russian Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a distinguished visiting scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and a research associate of Harvard University's Ukrainian Research Institute.