David R. StoneArchives
tags: Top Young Historians
David R. Stone, 38
Teaching Position: Professor of History, Faculty member of the Institute for Military Studies and 20th Century Studies, Kansas State University
Area of Research: Diplomatic History and International Affairs, Military History, European History, Russian History
Education: Ph.D, History, Yale University, 1997
Major Publications: David Stone is the author of Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933, (University Press of Kansas, 2001) was a recent selection of the History Book Club. It also was named the winner of the 2001 inaugural Best First Book prize of the Historical Society and was co-winner of the 2001 Shulman Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. He is also the author of A Military History of Russia From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya, (Greenwood Press, 2006) Stone's has numerous journal and book chapters published including "Imperialism and Sovereignty: The League of Nations' Drive to Control the Global Arms Trade" in the Journal of Contemporary History, April 2000; "Tukhachevskii in Leningrad: Military Politics and Exile, 1928-1931" in Europe-Asia Studies, December 1996; "The Balkan Pact and American Policy, 1950-1955" in the East European Quarterly, September 1994; "Soviet Intelligence on Barbarossa: The Limits of Intelligence History" in Peter Jackson and Jennifer Siegel, eds., Intelligence and Statecraft: The Use and Limits of Intelligence in International Society (Praeger, 2005), pp. 157-171, and "The Russian Civil War, 1917-1921," "The Russo-Polish War," "Ideology and the Rise of the Red Army, 1921-1928," and "Industry and the Soviet Army, 1928-1941," all in Robin Higham and Frederick Kagan, eds., The Military History of the Soviet Union (St. Martin's / Palgrave, 2001).
Awards: Stone is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Inaugural Best First Book Prize from the Historical Society for Hammer and Rifle, 2001;
Co-Winner of the Shulman Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies for Hammer and Rifle, 2001;
Winner of Kansas State University's Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2001;
Fellow of Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA, 2005/6;
International Research and Exchanges Board grant for research in Moscow (additional support from History, 2003;
Department, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Military History and Twentieth-Century Studies);
Summer Fellow of Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, for the workshop "Contentious Politics: Seeking Causes," 2000;
University Small Research Grant, Kansas State University for research on "US Financial Diplomacy and the Soviet Bloc;
Mellon dissertation writing fellowship;
Jacob Javits fellowship for graduate study (US Department of Education);
Smith-Richardson summer research fellowship;
MacArthur dissertation and summer research fellowships;
Olin fellowship for graduate study in Military and Strategic History.
Stone has also taught in the history department at Hamilton College and in the International Security Studies Program at Yale University.
Stalin dismissed historians as "archive rats," but Russianists have proudly adopted the label. Moscow in the early 1990s was an astounding place to do research. The archives were thrown open, and my passport and relative wealth shielded me from the miseries I saw every day. But things were more complicated than I realized.
My research made me recognize how Western I was. I naively assumed that there would be clear rules for what was secret and what wasn't, and access would be equal. Russia didn't work that way. Non-Russianists often assume this means archivists were corrupt, but that wasn't the case. I was never asked to trade money for access, and the highly-professional archivists would have been offended at the suggestion. Instead, access was fuzzy, and centered on relationships. I still had to establish myself as a serious and responsible scholar. That meant I had to show up, and keep showing up, day after day. My funding let me do that. At Yale, Paul Kennedy had established International Security Studies, an interdisciplinary research center, and attracted the foundation grants to make it thrive. ISS provided me the backing to go to Moscow early and stay late.
Time and guidance let me feel my way through the maze of Russian archives dealing with the Soviet military in the 1920s and 1930s. While limited archival access had been available to foreigners even before communism began to disintegrate, military and foreign policy materials had been strictly off-limits. This meant I had little secondary literature to rely on and had to build the basic chronology of events for myself. The payoff, though, was that I and the other scholars working on the Soviet military could truly break new ground.
Access was never complete. Archivists denied that some collections even existed. When I brought in books by well-connected Russian scholars with precise citations to those collections, the stone-faced denials never changed. Still, by patiently chipping away at archival barriers, I was able to assemble a comprehensive picture of Soviet military policy. Using multiple archives (military, party, economic, and state), each with different filing systems and different sets of classified and unclassified documents, helped enormously. So did the remaining irrationalities of archival policy. Documents that I couldn't see in reading rooms were perfectly accessible, as long as I read them in the bowels of archive conservatories. My clear intent to write up and publish what I found in those sources was not a problem. The result was that I ended up finding what I needed.
One downside to working on the Soviet military, even sixty years later, was suspicion. Military history in the USSR was an exclusively military preserve (an excellent argument for keeping military history vigorous in our universities), and a foreign civilian studying the military was naturally presumed a spy. I was asked directly, more than once, whether my true employer was the CIA.
The golden age ended even before I left Moscow. Putin's administration has been rightly blamed for chipping away the liberties of the Yeltsin era, but the archival reversal began well before Putin. In my experience, the key moment was Chechnya. The outbreak of open warfare in December 1994 had an immediate (and palpable) effect on archivists' attitudes, and limits on research became much tighter. Things are nowhere near the bad old days of the Soviet Union, but it's hard not to miss those first heady years.
By David R. Stone
About David R. Stone
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