WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) mourns the passing of Richard Pipes, notable scholar of Russian history and 2007 National Humanities Medalist.
Pipes, a refugee from German-occupied Poland, devoted himself to the study of Russian history after military service in World War II. During his 38 years on the faculty at Harvard University Pipes earned renown for his expansive—and frequently polemical—histories of the intellectual roots of the Russian Revolution and Bolshevik Regime. At the time of his National Humanities Medal award, Pipes told Humanities magazine that his “greatest scholarly achievement is analyzing the Russian political tradition and demonstrating the continuity between tsarist Russia, Communist Russia, and Russia since 1991.”
Pipes’s public critique of the United States’ Cold War détente policies toward the Soviet Union brought him celebrity, notoriety, and a central spot among the country’s leading military and foreign policy advisors. Most notably, Pipes headed the famous “Team B” of experts called together in the mid-70s to offer an alternative assessment of the CIA’s analysis of Soviet military capabilities. He later served on the National Security Council and closely advised Ronald Reagan on his administration’s interactions with the Soviet Union.
“Richard Pipes’s career is a compelling reminder of the power and importance of humanities scholarship,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “His study of the vast sweep of Russian history profoundly influenced the course of American foreign policy.”