Art of the Bribe

The Art of the Bribe James Heinzen & The Art of the Bribe at Tredyffrin Public Library

Professor James Heinzen discusses his new book The Art of the Bribe on Thursday, December 8 at 7 pm

Thanks to Professor Heinzen for taking some time to introduce himself & his topic before his presentation.

Briefly describe yourself & the topic you will be discussing at the library.

I am a Professor of History at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Previously, I served on the board of the Tredyffrin Libraries for six years. I have taught at a number of universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Princeton University.

My book examines corruption in the Soviet Union during the reign of Josef Stalin. I am a social and political historian, with particular interest in bribery as a part of everyday life. I did the research for this book in declassified Russian government and Communist Party archives, located mainly in Moscow. To do the research, I made seven trips to Moscow archives over the course of the past 12 years.

Discuss your interest in that topic:James Heinzen

I first became interested in the history of bribery when I was robbed in Moscow in 1992, just after the collapse of communism.  My wallet was swiped by a group of kids while I was walking in central Moscow. When I went to the local police station to report the crime, the captain in charge casually asked me for a bribe as we sipped tea in his office. His proposition was shocking, in part because it was so open. After I finished researching and writing my first book, I set myself to trying to find information in Russian archives about bribery during the darkest period of Russian history, and the most unknown to historians, the period that historians call  “late Stalinism” after World War II.

Who has been the most inspirational person in your life?

One of the most influential people in shaping my professional path is my Trinity College Russian history professor, Samuel Kassow. Professor Kassow was a great teacher, who encouraged me to study the Russian language and then to spend a semester in Moscow in the early 1980s. It was during that period of extreme Cold War tensions between the US and the USSR that I became deeply fascinated with Russia—its history, culture, and people.

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