During his 35 years in the American Foreign Service (1956-1991), Jack Matlock served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on the National Security Council Staff from 1983 until 1986, and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981 to 1983.
Before his appointment to Moscow as Ambassador, Mr. Matlock served three tours at the American Embassy in the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1981. His other Foreign Service assignments were in Vienna, Munich, Accra, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, in addition to tours in Washington as Director of Soviet Affairs in the State Department (1971-74) and as Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute (1979-80). Before entering the Foreign Service Mr. Matlock was Instructor in Russian Language and Literature at Dartmouth College (1953-56). During the 1978-79 academic year he was Visiting Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
Since his retirement from the Foreign Service in 1991, he has held academic posts at Columbia University, Princeton University, Hamilton College, Mt. Holyoke College and the Institute for Advanced Study, where he was George F. Kennan Professor from 1996 to 2001.
He is the author of Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray--And How to Return to Reality (Yale University Press, 2010); Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (Random House, 2004, paperback edition 2005); Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador’s Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Random House, 1995); Leskov into English: On Translating Соборяне (Church Folks), Columbia University, 2013, and a handbook to the thirteen-volume Russian edition of Stalin’s Collected Works (Washington, D.C. 1955, 2nd edition, New York, 1971).
Mr. Matlock was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, on October 1, 1929, and was educated at Duke University (AB, summa cum laude, 1950) and at Columbia University (MA and Certificate of the Russian Institute, 1952, PhD, 2013). He has been awarded honorary doctorates by four institutions including the Latvian Academy of Sciences. In addition to the books noted, he maintains a blog at www.JackMatlock.com and is the author of numerous articles on foreign policy, international relations, and Russian literature and history.
He and his wife, the former Rebecca Burrum, divide their time between Booneville, Tennessee, and Durham, North Carolina. They have five children and three grandchildren.