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The Centre for Grand Strategy invites you to attend an online book talk with Joseph Torigian, the author of the recently published book Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao. This book explores how succession in authoritarian regimes was less a competition of visions for the future and more a settling of scores.

About the book: The political successions in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao, respectively, are often explained as triumphs of inner‑party democracy, leading to a victory of “reformers” over “conservatives” or “radicals.” In traditional thinking, Leninist institutions provide competitors a mechanism for debating policy and making promises, stipulate rules for leadership selection, and prevent the military and secret police from playing a coercive role. Here, Joseph Torigian argues that the post-cult of personality power struggles in history’s two greatest Leninist regimes were instead shaped by the politics of personal prestige, historical antagonisms, backhanded political maneuvering, and violence. Mining newly discovered material from Russia and China, Torigian challenges the established historiography and suggests a new way of thinking about the nature of power in authoritarian regimes.

Join us online to hear Joseph Torigian discuss his book with Dr Nicola Leveringhaus followed by a Q&A session.

You can sign up for the event here to receive the zoom link.

About the speakers:

Joseph Torigian is an assistant professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington and a Global Fellow in the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. Previously, he was a Visiting Fellow at the China in the World Program at Australian National University, a Stanton Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton-Harvard’s China and the World Program, a Postdoctoral (and Predoctoral) Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), a Predoctoral Fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, an IREX scholar affiliated with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and a Fulbright Scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai. His new book, “Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao” was recently released with Yale University Press, and he has a forthcoming biography on Xi Jinping’s father with Stanford University Press.


Dr Nicola Leveringhaus specialises in the International Relations of Asia, with a focus on China and the security of that region, especially as it relates to nuclear weapons. In September 2016 she joined the Department of War Studies from the University of Sheffield, where she was a Lecturer in International Politics. Dr Leveringhaus was previously a Junior Research Fellow (2012), a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2012-15) and Stipendiary Lecturer in International Relations (2014-15) at the University of Oxford. Nicola completed her DPhil at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Rosemary Foot. Her thesis examined China’s engagement with the global nuclear order since 1949. During her doctoral studies, she was a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China and a pre-doctoral fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. Prior to starting her DPhil, Dr Leveringhaus was a research fellow at the then International Policy Institute based in King’s College London, conducting research for Professor Wyn Bowen on nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia. During this time, she also conducted research on Jihadist terrorism with Professor Javier Jordan of the University of Granada in Spain.

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