Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Book Talk. There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century by Fiona Hill
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Please join the Harriman Institute and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) for a talk with Fiona Hill, author of There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century (Mariner Books, 2021), in conversation with Alexander Cooley (Harriman Institute). Moderated by David L. Phillips (ISHR).

In There Is Nothing for You Here, a celebrated foreign policy expert and key impeachment witness reveals how declining opportunity has set America on the grim path of modern Russia—and draws on her personal journey out of poverty, as well as her unique perspectives as an historian and policy maker, to show how we can return hope to our forgotten places.

Fiona Hill grew up in a world of terminal decay. The last of the local mines had closed, businesses were shuttering, and despair was etched in the faces around her. Her father urged her to get out of their blighted corner of northern England: “There is nothing for you here, pet,” he said.

The coal-miner’s daughter managed to go further than he ever could have dreamed. She studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen, and served three U.S. Presidents. But in the heartlands of both Russia and the United States, she saw troubling reflections of her hometown and similar populist impulses. By the time she offered her brave testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Hill knew that the desperation of forgotten people was driving American politics over the brink—and that we were running out of time to save ourselves from Russia’s fate. In this powerful, deeply personal account, she shares what she has learned, and shows why expanding opportunity is the only long-term hope for our democracy.



Fiona Hill is the Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. From 2017 to 2019, she served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. From 2006 to 2009, she served as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. She has researched and published extensively on issues related to Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, regional conflicts, energy, and strategic issues. Coauthor of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin and The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold, she holds a master’s degree in Soviet studies and a doctorate in history from Harvard University and a master’s in Russian and modern history from St. Andrews University in Scotland. She also has pursued studies at Moscow’s Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages. Hill is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and lives in the Washington, DC, area.

David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips has worked as a Senior Adviser to the United Nations Secretariat (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (1999-2000). He was a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert to the U.S. Department of State during the administrations of Presidents Clinton (Bureau for European Affairs 1999-2001), Bush (Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs 2001), and Obama (Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs 2010-2011). He is the author of The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East (2014), Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U.S. Intervention (2012), From Bullets to Ballots: Violent Muslim Movements in Transition (2008), Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (2005), and Unsilencing the Past: Track Two Diplomacy and Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation (2005).

Alexander Cooley is Director of the Harriman Institute and Clare Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College. His research examines how external actors—including emerging powers, international organizations, multinational companies, NGOs, and Western enablers of grand corruption—have influenced the development, governance and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Cooley is the author and/or editor of seven academic books including, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (Yale University Press 2017), co-authored with John Heathershaw, and most recently, Exit from Hegemony: The Unravelling of the American Global Order (Oxford University Press, 2020), co-authored with Daniel Nexon.


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