About the Author

Photo credit: Robert Wade

An award-winning historian and translator, Douglas Smith is the author of seven books on Russia. His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He studied German and Russian at the University of Vermont, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and has a doctorate in history from UCLA.

Over the past forty years Douglas has made many trips to Russia. In the 1980s, he was a Russian-speaking guide on the U.S. State Department’s exhibition “Information USA” that traveled throughout the USSR. He worked as a Soviet affairs analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich and has served as an interpreter for late President Reagan.

Douglas has taught and lectured widely in the United States, Britain, and Europe and has appeared in documentaries for National Geographic, the BBC, and Netflix. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Guggenheim fellowship, Fulbright scholarship, and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study Center.

His book Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy was a bestseller in the UK. It won the inaugural Pushkin House Russian Book Prize in 2013, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and was chosen Book of the Year by Andrew Solomon in Salon. His 2016 biography Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs was a finalist for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Douglas’s new translation of Konstantin Paustovsky’s epic memoir, The Story of a Life, published by Vintage Classics in the UK in 2022 and by New York Review Books in the US in 2023, has received widespread critical praise.

He recently launched a site dedicated to the film and movie archive of Major Martin J. Manhoff, a stunning, one-of-a-kind visual record of the Soviet Union in the Stalin years.

Douglas is now at work on a book titled The City Without Jews, a history of the destruction of Jewish Vienna under the Nazis that highlights the remarkable story of Mignon Langnas.

A native of Minnesota, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Stephanie Ellis-Smith.

Photo credit: Robert Wade