Dr Arfon Rees

Department of History
Reader in Soviet and Russian History

Contact details

History of Russia and the Soviet Union, political  movements, party-state institutions, policy making and political ideas.


  • PhD, 1982, University of Birmingham
  • BA (Hons) in Political Science (2.1), 1971, University of York


Dr Rees is a specialist on Russian/Soviet history.  He is the author of 3 monographs and ten edited volumes on the development of the Soviet political system, including studies of the formation of the Stalinist system, the study of economic policy making, the study of centre-local relations, the study of the role of individuals, and the function of the leader cult.

He is the author of a study on political thought in Russia that focuses on the reception of the ideas of Machiavelli. He has recently completed political biography of one of Stalin’s principal deputies – Lazar Kaganovich. He has also taught and published work on East European history, particularly on the process of the Sovietization of the region after 1945. He has an interest in comparative studies of revolutions, and on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes of the twentieth century.

He is currently working on two projects: one analysing  the debate on political terror in Russia in the late tsarist era, and a second studying Stalin’s language as way of exploring the nature of  the Soviet regime and Stalin’s own personal role in its developments. Outside of Russian history, Dr Rees has published two major monographs on Welsh history



  • Second year option Russia in Revolution, 1900-1939
  • Ssecond year option (CREES) Russia Political and Intellectual Thought 
  • Second year option  Nazism, Fascism and Stalinism 
  • Third year special subject the  Russian Revolution


  • The History of Russia and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Postgraduate supervision

My areas of supervision are the history of Russia and the Soviet Union – late nineteenth century and twentieth century - with particular reference to political  movements, party- state institutions, policy making and political ideas. My principal area of expertise if the Stalin era.  I have supervises doctoral dissertations across a wide field – including the history of Eastern Europe and  communist movements in the twentieth century.


Research and academic interests

  • History of Russia, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
  • The political history of the Soviet Union: Stalinism and de-Stalinisation
  • The comparative study of revolutions
  • The comparative study of totalitarian and authoritarian political systems in the  twentieth century 
  • The history of political thought in Russia
  • Terror in political and literary debates 
  • The study of administrative behaviour

Current and recent projects

  • Current project-the language of power. The study of Stalin’s pronouncements
  • Current project-the debate on terror in Russia from 1880-1930
  • A political biography of Lazar Kaganovich. Typescript completed. Contract for publication
  • The Sovietization of Eastern Europe. Work published
  • The role of the leader cult in communist dictatorships. Work published
  • Political thought in Russia: a study of revolutionary Machiavellism. Work published
  • The nature of Stalin’s dictatorship (ESRC funded project). Work published 
  • Decision making in the Soviet command economy (ESRC funded project). Work published
  • Centre-local relations in the Soviet Union (ESRC funded project). Work published
  • Administrative behaviour  in the Soviet command economy. Work published

Other activities

From 1999 to 2008 Dr Rees was granted leave from the University of Birmingham, during which time he held the post of Professor of East European History at the prestigious European University Institute in Florence. Whilst there he supervised 25 postgraduate students who completed their doctorates on Russian and East European history.


  • Apor, B, Apor, P and Rees, EA (eds) (2008) The Sovietization of Eastern Europe: New Perspectives on the Postwar Period, New Academia: Washington.
  • Rees, EA (2004) Political Thought from Machiavelli to Stalin: Revolutionary Machiavellism, Palgrave: Basingstoke.
  • Apor, B, Behrends, JC, Jones, P and Rees, EA (eds) (2004) The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc, Palgrave: Basingstoke.
  • Davies, RW, Kosheleva, LP, Khlevnyuk, OV, Rees, EA and Rogovaya, LA (eds) (2003) The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-36, Yale University Press: New Haven.
  • Rees, EA (ed) (2003) The Nature of Stalin’s Dictatorship: The Politburo, 1924-1953, Palgrave: Basingstoke.
  • Rees, EA (ed) (2002) Centre-Local Relations in the Stalinist State, 1928-1941, Palgrave: Basingstoke.
  • Rees, EA (ed) (1997) Decision-Making in the Stalinist Command Economy, 1932-37, Macmillan, Basingstoke and St. Martin’s Press: New York.. 
  • Rees, EA, (1995) Stalinism and Soviet Rail Transport, 1928-41, Macmillan: Basingstoke, and St. Martin’s Press: New York, pp. xiv, 307.
  • Rees, EA, (1987) State Control in Soviet Russia: The Rise and Fall of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspectorate, 1920-34,
  • Macmillan: Basingstoke and St. Martin’s Press: New York.
  • Rees, EA (2001) Welsh Outlaws and Bandits: Political Rebellion and Lawlessness in Wales, 1400-1603, Kings Norton