Richard Pipes

Richard Pipes

Richard Edgar Pipes (born July 11, 1923) is an American historian who specializes in Russian history, particularly with respect to the history of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War era he headed Team B, a team of analysts which analyzed the strategic capacities and goals of the Soviet military and political leadership.

His son is Middle East academic and analyst Daniel Pipes.


Richard Pipes was born in Cieszyn, Poland. His father was a businessman. By Pipes's own account, during his childhood and youth, he never thought about the Soviet Union; the major cultural influences on him were Polish and German culture. The Pipes family fled occupied Poland in October 1939 and arrived in the United States in July 1940, after a brief period passing through Fascist Italy.cite book| first = Sergio| last = Romano| year = 2005| title = Memorie di un conservatore| pages = p. 180| publisher = TEA| id = ISBN 88-304-2128-6| url =
*cite web | title=Notes on Professor Richard Pipes | | url= | accessmonthday=January 28 |accessyear=2006] Pipes became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943 while serving in the United States Army Air Corps. He was educated at Muskingum College, Cornell University and Harvard. He married Irene Eugenia Roth in 1946, and had two children with her. His son Daniel Pipes is a scholar and specialist in Middle East history and affairs and a former appointee to the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Pipes taught at Harvard University from 1950 until his retirement in 1996. He was the director of Harvard's Russian Research Center from 1968 to 1973 and is now Baird Professor Emeritus of History at Harvard University. He acted as senior consultant at the Stanford Research Institute from 1973 to 1978. During the 1970s, he was an adviser to Washington Senator Henry M. Jackson. In 1981 and 1982 he served as a member of the National Security Council, holding the post of Director of East European and Soviet Affairs under President Ronald Reagan.cite news
first = Eyal | last = Press
title = Neocon man: Daniel Pipes has made his name inveighing against an academy overrun by political extremists but he is nothing if not extreme in his own views.
url =
| publisher = "The Nation"
date = May 2004
accessdate = 2007-08-17
] Pipes was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger from 1977 until 1992 and serves on the Council of Foreign Relations. In the 1970s, Pipes was a leading critic of détente, which he described as "inspired by intellectual indolence and based on ignorance of one's antagonist and therefore inherently inept".Bogle, Lori Lyn "Pipes, Richard" page 922.]

Richard Pipes has written 21 books and is a member of several editorial boards.

Team B

Pipes was head of the 1976 Team B, composed of civilian experts and retired military officers and agreed to by then CIA director George Bush at the urging of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) as a competitive analysis exercise. Team B was created as an antagonist force to a group of CIA intelligence officials, known as Team A, and argued that the National Intelligence Estimate on the Soviet Union, generated yearly by the CIA, underestimated Soviet military ambition [Betts, Richard K. and Mahnken, Thomas G. "Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel". 2003, page 68.] and misinterpreted Soviet strategic intentions.

A top CIA analyst, defending the CIA's stance, called it "a kangaroo court of outside critics all picked from one point of view."cite web
title =The Hard Liner: Harvard historian Richard Pipes shaped the Reagan administration's aggressive approach to the Soviet Union.
work =Boston Globe
url =
] Pipes himself called Team B's evidence "soft." Team B came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several new weapons, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn't depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable by existing technology.cite journal | author= | title= Anatomy of a Neo-Conservative White House | journal= Canadian Dimension | year= May 1, 2005 | volume= 39 | issue= 03| pages= 46| url= ] The information Team B produced was later determined to be false. According to Dr. Anne Cahn in 2004 (Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1977-1980) "I would say that all of it was fantasy... if you go through most of Team B's specific allegations about weapons systems, and you just examine them one by one, they were all wrong."cite journal | author= Goodman, Melvin A. | title= Righting the CIA | journal= The Baltimore Sun | date= November 19, 2004 | volume= | issue= | pages= | url=] cite journal
first =Thom
last =Hartmann
authorlink =
coauthors =
year =2004
month =December 7
title =Hyping Terror For Fun, Profit - And Power
volume =
issue =
pages =
id =
url =

Pipes himself emphasizes the other aspects of Team B's conclusions, which were better founded: "We dealt with one problem only: What is the Soviet strategy for nuclear weapons? Team B was appointed to look at the evidence and to see if we could conclude that the actual Soviet strategy is different from ours. It's now demonstrated totally, completely, that it was", he said, using the example that documents in Polish archives that show the Soviets planning to use nuclear weapons in the event of war. For example, in a "Commentary" article, he argued that the A team was subject to 'mirror-imaging' (a common problem in intelligence research and analysis) [thinking that the other side necessarily thought the same as your side] ; in particular he argued that Team B showed Soviet development of high-yield, accurate MIRV'ed warheads for ICBMs was inconsistent with city-hostage principles of MAD, implying Soviet first-strike plans. In 1986, Pipes said that history shows that Team B overall contributed to creating more realistic estimates.cite web
title =Team B: The Reality Behind the Myth
work =Commentary Magazine
url =

Other members of Team B included Daniel O. Graham and Thomas Wolf. Its advisors included future Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Nitze.

Writings on Russian history

Pipes has written many books on Russian history, including "Russia under the Old Regime" (1974), "The Russian Revolution" (1990) and "Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime" (1994), and has been a frequent and prominent interviewee in the press on the matters of Soviet history and foreign affairs. His writings also appear in "Commentary", "The New York Times" and The Times Literary Supplement".

Pipes is famous for arguing that the origins of the Soviet Union can be traced to the separate path taken by 15th century Muscovy in a Russian version of the "Sonderweg" thesis. In Pipes' opinion, Muscovy differed from every state in Europe in that there was no concept of private property in Muscovy, and that everything was regarded as the property of the Grand Duke/Tsar. In Pipes' view, this separate path undertaken by Russia ensured that Russia would always be an autocratic state with values fundamentally dissimilar to the values of Western civilization. Pipes has argued that this "patrimonialism" of Imperial Russia started to break down when Russian leaders attempted to modernize in the 19th century without seeking however to change the basic "patrimonial" structure of Russian society. In Pipes's opinion, this separate course undertaken by Russia over the centuries left Russia uniquely open to what Pipes sees as a communist hijacking in 1917. Pipes has strongly criticized the values of the radical "intelligentsia" of later Imperial Russia for what he sees as their unreasoning fanaticism and socialism, and inability to accept reality. The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has often denounced Pipes' work as "the Polish version of Russian history". Pipes, in his turn, has often accused Solzhenitsyn of being an anti-Semitic Russian ultra-nationalist, who in Pipes' opinion seeks to blame the ills of Communism on the Jews rather than to admit to the Russian roots of the Soviet Union. Writing of Solzhenitsyn's novel, "August 1914" in the "New York Times" on November 13, 1985, Pipes commented: "Every culture has its own brand of anti-Semitism. In Solzhenitsyn's case, it's not racial. It has nothing to do with blood. He's certainly not a racist; the question is fundamentally religious and cultural. He bears some resemblance to Dostoevsky, who was a fervent Christian and patriot and a rabid anti-Semitic. Solzhenitsyn is unquestionably in the grip of the Russian extreme right's view of the Revolution, which is that it was the doing of the Jews". [Thomas, D.M. "Alexander Solzhenitsyn" St. Martin's Press, New York, New York, United States of America, 1998 ISBN 0-312-18036-5 page 490.]

From the left, criticism of Pipes's interpretation of the events of 1917 has come from a number of social historians, such as Lynne Viola and Sheila Fitzpatrick, who contend that there were wider social movements involving workers, sailors, peasants, and soldiers at work in 1917 and that Pipes has focused too narrowly on intellectuals as causal agents. Pipes in his turn has often criticized both Viola and Fitzpatrick as generalizing and implicitly as being apologists for Soviet terror. Edward Acton argued that Pipes in 1993 "ignored the work of a generation engaged in social history, and boldly reasserted the interpretation which their work had rendered implausible", had presented propositions of which all "flew in the face of the most detailed and meticulous specialist research" and that his depiction of the Soviet Union was "a mere caricature." He argued that "Pipesian" thought, like postmodernism, was an "attack on the enlightenment." [Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914-1921 "The Revolution and its historians" pp.12-15ed. Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, William Rosenberg. Indiana University Press ]

Pipes has argued that the Soviet Union was an expansionist, totalitarian state bent on world conquest. He is also notable for his thesis that, contrary to many traditional histories of the USSR at the time, the "October Revolution" was, rather than a popular general uprising, a coup foisted upon the majority of the Russian population (and national minorities) by a tiny segment of the population driven by a select group of intellectuals who subsequently established a one-party dictatorship which was intolerant and repressive from the start, rather than having deviated from an initially benign course. In Pipes's view, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a total disaster, as it allowed what he regards as the small section of the "fanatical" "intelligentsia" to carry out policies that in Pipes' opinion were completely unrealistic from the beginning.

Pipes is a leading advocate of the totalitarianism school that sees Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as being fundamentally similar regimes pursuing similar policies that, in fact, collaborated in a few essential respects. Citing the work of such historians as James Gregor, Henry Ashby Turner, Renzo De Felice, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Ernst Nolte and David Schoenbaum together with the work of Hermann Rauschning, Pipes, in a chapter in his book "Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime", argued that there is no such thing as generic fascism, and that the Third Reich, the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy were all totalitarian regimes united by their antipathy to democracy.

Richard Pipes, in an off-the-record interview, told Reuters in March 1981 that "Soviet leaders would have to choose between peacefully changing their Communist system in the direction followed by the West or going to war. There is no other alternative and it could go either way… Detente is dead." Pipes also stated in the interview that Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of West Germany was susceptible to pressure from the Soviets. It was learned independently that Pipes was the official who spoke to Reuters. This potentially jeopardized Pipes's job. The White House and the "incensed" State Department issued statements repudiating Pipes's statements.cite journal | author= Author Unknown| title= U.S. Repudiates a Hard-Line Aide| journal=New York Times | year= March 19, 1981| volume= | issue= | pages= A8 | url=
*cite journal | author=Shribman, David | title= Security Adviser Ousted for a Talk Hinting at War| journal=New York Times | year= October 21, 1981| volume= | issue= | pages= Section A; Page 1, Column 2 | url=; cite journal | author= Author Unknown| title= The Rogue General | journal= Newsweek | year= November 2, 1981| volume= | issue= | pages= | url= ] Pipes, however, stayed on for a full two years, after which he returned to Harvard because his leave of absence had concluded.

In 1992, Pipes was an expert witness in the Russian Constitutional Court's trial of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


Pipes has an extensive list of honors, including: Honorary Consul of the Republic of Georgia, Foreign Member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, Commander's Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland, Honorary DHL at Adelphi College, Honorary LLD at Muskingum College, Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Silesia, Annual Spring Lecturer of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Institute, Walter Channing Cabot Fellow of Harvard University, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Guggenheim Fellow, Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and recipient of the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association. cite web
title =Twelve FAS Faculty Members to Retire
work =Harvard Gazette Archives
url =
] He received one of the 2007 National Humanities Medal [ "6 Academics Receive National Honors in Arts and Humanities" Chronicle of Higher Education Nov. 16, 2007 [ summary] ] [ "Humanities Medals Awarded by President Bush. Recipients honored for outstanding cultural contributions" [ NNEH News Archive] ]


*"The Formation of the Soviet Union, Communism and Nationalism, 1917-1923" (1954)
*"The Russian Intelligentsia" (1961)
*"Social Democracy and the St. Petersburg Labor Movement, 1885-1897" (1963)
*"Struve, Liberal on the Left" (1970)
*"Russia Under the Old Regime" (1974)
*"Soviet Strategy in Europe" (1976)
*"Struve, Liberal on the Right, 1905-1944" (1980)
*"U.S.-Soviet Relations in the Era of Détente: a Tragedy of Errors" (1981)
*"Survival is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America's Future" (1984)
*"Russia Observed: Collected Essays on Russian and Soviet History" (1989)
*"The Russian Revolution" (1990)
*"Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime: 1919-1924" (1993)
*"Communism, the Vanished Specter" (1994)
*"A Concise History of the Russian Revolution" (1995)
*"The Three "Whys" of the Russian Revolution" (1995)
*"The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive" (1996)
*"Property and Freedom" (1999)
*"Communism: A History" (2001)
*"Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger" (2003)
*"The Degaev Affair: Terror and Treason in Tsarist Russia" (2003)
*" Russian Conservatism and Its Critics" (2006)


Further reading

*Bogle, Lori Lyn "Pipes, Richard" pages 922-923 from "The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing" edited by Kelly Boyd, Volume 2, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing, 1999.
*Kenez, Peter "The Prosecution of Soviet History: A Critique of Richard Pipes' The Russian Revolution" pages 345-351 from "Russian Review", Volume 50, 1991.
*Malia, Martin Edward "The Hunt for the True October" pages 21-28 from "Commentary", Volume 92, 1991.
*Somin, Ilya "Riddles, Mysteries, and Enigmas: Unanswered Questions of Communism's Collapse" pages 84-88 from "Policy Review", Volume 70, 1994.
*Stent, Angela "Review of U.S-Soviet Relations in the Era of Detente" pages 91-92 from "Russian Review", Volume 41, 1982.
*Szeftel, Marc "Two Negative Apraisals of Russian Pre-Revolutionary Development" pages 74-87 from "Canadian-American Slavic Studies", 1980.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Richard Pipes — in Warschau 2004 Richard Pipes (* 11. Juli 1923 in Cieszyn) ist ein US amerikanischer Historiker, der sich auf die Geschichte Russlands und der Sowjetunion spezialisiert hat. Während des Kalten Krieges stand er einem Gremium von auswärtigen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard Pipes — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pipes. Richard Edgar Pipes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Richard E. Pipes — Richard Pipes Richard Edgar Pipes Photographie prise en 2004 Naissance 11 juillet 1923 C …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Richard Edgar Pipes — Richard Pipes Richard Edgar Pipes Photographie prise en 2004 Naissance 11 juillet 1923 C …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pipes (surname) — Pipes is a family name.People with the family name*William Thomas Pipes, (1850–1909), Canadian politician *Martin L. Pipes (1850 1932), American judge *David W. Pipes, Jr. (1886–1968), American lawyer and sugar planter *Felix Pipes (born 1887,… …   Wikipedia

  • Pipes — may refer to: *Pipe (cylindrical conveyance) *PIPES (buffering agent in biochemistry) *Daniel Pipes *Richard Pipes *Yahoo! Pipes *Bagpipes or uilleann pipes *PIPE deal or private investment in public equity *Pipes (Transformers) …   Wikipedia

  • Pipes — steht für: Pipes und Filter, Architekturmuster in der Softwareentwicklung Uilleann Pipes, irischer Dudelsack Pipes ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Daniel Pipes (* 1949), amerikanischer Autor Richard Pipes (* 1923), amerikanischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard Vincent Allen — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Richard Vincent Allen (n. 1936) Politólogo estadounidense. Fue Consejero de Seguridad Nacional del Presidente Ronald Reagan (1981 1982). Contenido 1 Primeros años 2 Consejero de Seguridad Nacional (1981 1982) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Richard Stites — Richard Thomas Stites (* 2. Dezember 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; † 7. März 2010 in Helsinki) war ein US amerikanischer Historiker und Fachmann für die Geschichte der Sowjetunion und Russlands. Biografie Nach dem Schulbesuch studierte er… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pipes — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Pipes est un nom de famille notamment porté par : Daniel Pipes (1949 ), journaliste américain Felix Pipes (1887 ?), joueur autrichien de tennis… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.