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Memoirs of a Non-Belonger

Richard Pipes

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A distinguished historian, Harvard professor, and White House adviser looks back on his own life and on the tumultuous twentieth century

Sixteen-year-old Richard Pipes escaped from Nazi-occupied Warsaw with his family in October 1939. Their flight took them to the United States by way of Italy, and Pipes went on to earn a college degree, join the U.S. Air Corps, serve as professor of Russian history at Harvard for nearly forty years, and become adviser to President Reagan on Soviet and Eastern European affairs. In this engrossing book, the eminent historian remembers the events of his own remarkable life as well as the unfolding of some of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary political events. From his youthful memories of bombs falling on Warsaw to his recollections of the conflicts inside the Reagan administration over American policies toward the USSR, Pipes offers penetrating observations as well as fascinating portraits of such cultural and political figures as Isaiah Berlin, Ronald Reagan, and Alexander Haig. Perhaps most interesting of all, Pipes depicts his evolution as a historian and his understanding of how history is witnessed and how it is recorded.

Richard Pipes is Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, at Harvard University and an internationally renowned historian of Russia and the Soviet Union. He is the author of twenty books.

"A brilliant, fascinating, wonderfully well-written memoir that takes us—with Richard Pipes—out of Poland to escape the Nazis, out of refugee status to Harvard and the White House. Pipes remains America’s premier Soviet specialist."—Jeane Kirkpatrick, The American Enterprise Institute

“Mr. Pipes has had a long and distinguished life and career, and he has made distinctive and important contributions to both scholarship and public policy. He has much of interest to tell, particularly concerning his often contentious involvement with American policy toward the Soviet Union.”—Mark Raeff, Columbia University

"Richard Pipes has it all—striking firsthand experience of totalitarian violence, first class research, and crucial input into US foreign policy. We are lucky that he has now had the time to record it."—Robert Conquest, Hoover Institution

“[In Vixi], Richard Pipes as the distinguished historian of Russia and a prominent public intellectual [recounts] the details of his extraordinary life . . . with energy and candor. . . . [A] fascinating story.”—Mark Falcoff, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

"Vixi . . . might as well be titled, Vinci, for it is very much a record of unlikely triumph over formidable odds, beginning with its gripping account of Pipes’s days as a young Jew living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw."—Sam Tanenhaus, Boston Sunday Globe

"Pipes’s superb scholarship, supplemented by a few canny suppositions, gives a highly probable version of this tale. . . . This excellent little book will appeal to the general public, students and specialists of history and terrorism, and, of course, to USD graduates. Recommended. All levels."—Choice

"Few . . . are likely to know much about [Pipes’s] background or the details of his extraordinary life, here recounted with energy and candor. From the very first chapter . . . the story of Pipes’s career offers a powerful reminder that truth is as curious as fiction. . . . Vixi is [a] fascinating story . . . a story, one feels sure, that is far from over."—Mark Falcoff, Commentary

“Pipes is a rare phenomenon: an intellectual who briefly ventured into politics without abandoning his integrity. . . . Pipes has written an autobiography that is as candid and combative as it is entertaining.”—Daniel Johnson, Daily Telegraph

“It is hard to imagine a more interesting life, or one better told. . . . His character sketches are deft and convincing. . . . Wonderful.”—Economist

“Pipes’s life story is fascinating, and he tells it well. . . . His willingness to shun what he terms ‘group think’ makes for a spiky, combative approach which, in turn, makes for lively reading.”—Jeff Barak, Jewish Chronicle

“Richard Pipes, . . . one of the world’s foremost scholars of Russia, and a man of political and policy influence as well, . . . has lived a rich, meaningful life.  Fortunately, he has the ability to recount it, richly and meaningfully. . . . Cinematic. . . . One of the pleasures of this book is that the author records his intellectual development, through books, chiefly, but also through art and music. . . . It is stirring to be in the company of this mind . . . for 250 pages. They are filled with immense learning and insight. They are leavened, too, by humor and idiosyncratic asides."—Jay Nordlinger, National Review

"An engrossing, blunt book, refreshingly free of the equivocation and circumspection that most academics bring even to the literary treatment of their own lives. . . . Whether one is an ex-Cold Warrior or merely a student of American intellectual life, Vixi ought to be valued and welcomed."—Sam Munson, New York Post

"[A] charming memoir. . . . You claim a ringside seat at the Cold War’s final curtain. . . . Throughout the book there are modest but meaningful meditations on religion, philosophy, the arts, and friendships. . . . The pleasant surprise in so slim a volume is the degree to which [Pipes] reveals himself--his personality, character, and motives. In that sense, above all, this is an entirely satisfying memoir."—Christopher Willcox, New York Sun

Vixi is the powerfully rendered autobiography of the great historian of the Russian Revolution who played a crucial intellectual role in bringing down the USSR."—Fred Siegel, New York Sun

"It is breathtaking to experience a personality of such unbounded self-esteem and unshakable convictions."—Laura Engelstein, Russian Review

“A fascinating look at the corridors of power from one who not only occupied a high position but is also prepared to use his considerable intellect and integrity to give us an honest and perspicacious portrait of what actually went on there. . . . Vixi is perhaps the most refreshing and valuable memoir to emerge from Washington in many years. . . . There is a great deal of wisdom in Vixi and it informs the present as it illuminates the past.”—Martin Rubin, San Francisco Chronicle

"‘Vixi is the work of a man of immense learning. . . . Most unusually, Vixi is also the work of an intellectual for whom beauty is truth, and truth beauty.”—David Pryce-Jones, Spectator

“A gracefully written account of [Pipes’] intellectual and political life.”—Fred Siegel, Washington Post Book World

"Richard Pipes is one of our most eminent historians. . . . His new autobiography-Vixi, Latin for ’I lived’—is of interest not just for his academic work but also for his service as a White House adviser. . . . A fascinating memoir."—Arnold Beichman, Weekly Standard

"Richard Pipes has written an elegant and highly readable memoir. In tracing the arc of his own eventful life, he has illuminated much that will be of interest to scholars. . . . Vixi succeeds in shedding some new light on the episodes in twentieth-century history its author has witnessed, but it is more compelling for its illumination of the way that history has shaped Pipes the historian and of the ways that one prolific and influential scholar has sustained his intellectual and creativity over the course of a long career."—Peter C. Pzefsky, H-Net Reviews - Russia
ISBN: 9780300101652
Publication Date: October 11, 2003
290 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
46 b/w illus.
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