Kotkin is the Birkelund Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1989. He is also a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of Stalin, vol. I: Paradoxes of Power, among other books. For several years he was the book reviewer for The New York Times Sunday Business section (2006-9), and today writes reviews for The Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. Kotkin earned a PhD from University of California Berkeley (1988).