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Adam Ulam
Adam Bruno Ulam (1922–2000) was an Americanmarker professor of History and Political Science at Harvard Universitymarker. Ulam was one of the world's foremost authorities on Russiamarker and the Soviet Unionmarker, and author of twenty books and many articles.


Ulam was born on April 8, 1922 in Lwów (Lvivmarker), then Polandmarker now Ukrainemarker, in a Polish Jewish family. After graduating from high school, he emigrated to the United Statesmarker on or around August 20, 1939, to go to college. This was but days before the German invasion of Poland which marked the beginning of the Second World War. His father had, at the last minute, changed his departure date from September 3 to August 20, most likely saving his life since Poland was invaded by Germany on September 1. His entire family, save for his brother Stanisław Ulam, a famous mathematician and key contributor to the Manhattan Project, would perish in The Holocaust. After the United States entered the war, he tried to enlist in the army, but was rejected at first for having "relatives living in enemy territory" and later, after a second attempt, for near-sightedness.

He studied at Brown Universitymarker, taught shortly at University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker, and obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard Universitymarker, where he studied from 1944 to 1947. He became a member of Harvard's faculty in 1947, was awarded tenure in 1954, and enjoyed the title of Gurney Professor of History and Political Science until he became professor emeritus in 1992. He directed the Russian Research Center (1973–1974) and was a research associate for the Center for International Studies, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker (1953–1955). He married in 1963 and had two sons. He died from lung cancer on March 28, 2000, at the age of 77.


He was the author of twenty books and many articles, primarily on the Soviet Union and the Cold War (the major exception being Fall of the American University, a critique of U.S. higher education, written in 1972). He is considered one of the most eminent Kremlinologists. In his first book - Titoism and the Cominform - published in 1952 and based on his Ph.D. thesis, he argued that the Communists’ reckless pursuit of their goals risked social and economic disaster and internecine quarrels which could undermine their power.

His Unfinished Revolution (1960) was a searching exploration of Marxist thought. The Bolsheviks (1965) quickly became a standard biography of Lenin, and Stalin: The Man and His Era (1973) just as quickly for Stalin. The Expansion and Coexistence: The History of Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917-67 (1968) was perhaps his most widely read book. There were two sequels: The Rivals: America and Russia since World War II (1971) and Dangerous Relations: The Soviet Union in World Politics, 1970-1982 (1983). Several of his remaining books were dedicated to aspects of Russian revolutionary thought. He also wrote a novel, The Kirov Affair (1988) on the Soviet 1930s.

In one of his last books, published in 1992 — the year he retired — Communists: The Story of Power and Lost Illusions, he commented on the fall of the Soviet Union, writing that communists lost because their ideology was misguided and growing awareness of that in the governing parties demoralized them and led to irrepressible conflicts within and between Communist nations.

List of works

This is a partial list.
  • Bolsheviks: The Intellectual and Political History of the Triumph of Communism in Russia (1965)
  • Communists: The Intellectual and Political History of Communism
  • Communists: The Story of Power and Lost Illusions, The (1992)
  • Dangerous Relations: Soviet Union in World Politics, 1970-82 (1983)
  • Expansion and Co-existence, The History of Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917-67 (1968)
  • Fall of the American University (1972)
  • History of Soviet Russia
  • In the Name of the People
  • Ideologies and Illusions: Revolutionary Thought from Herzen to Solzhenitsyn
  • Kirov Affair, The (1988) - note: a novel
  • Lenin and the Bolsheviks
  • Patterns of Government with Samuel Beer (1958)
  • Prophets and Conspirators in Prerevolutionary Russia
  • Rivals. America and Russia since World War II, The (1971)
  • Russia's Failed Revolutions
  • Stalin: The Man and His Era (1973)
  • Titoism and the Cominform (1952)
  • Understanding the Cold War: A Historian's Personal Reflections - note: a memoir
  • Unfinished Revolution, The (1960)


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