Kotkin has taught at Princeton 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. From 2006-09, he was the book reviewer for The New York Times Sunday business section. Today, he writes reviews for The Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. Kotkin earned a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988.