Scholarly Reviews of My Work
Review of Secular Cycles in the International Social Science Review by Donald J. Zeigler
"What is the motive force of history? Peter Turchin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, and Sergey Nefedov, a senior research scientist at the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, attempt to provide an answer to that question with a masterful, interdisciplinary synthesis of evidence that points to the answer in demographic-structural theory à la Jack Goldstone."
Review of Historical Dynamics in the Journal of Peace Research by William C. Terry
"Historical Dynamics is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at an effort to turn informal theories into cogent mathematical models capable of producing fresh insights."
A review of Historical Dynamics in American Journal of Sociology by Dingxin Zhao
"The book is well organized and clearly argued. ... unlike some simple-minded mathematical modelers, Turchin is very familiar with the relevant literature and has made a genuine effort to incorporate historical data into his models. I have learned a great deal from this work, and I strongly recommend it to scholars who are interested in historical sociology and mathematical modeling in social sciences. This said, however, I would like to point out some of the problems with this book..."
Commentary on my article in Structure and Dynamics
A comment by Andrey Korotayev
A review of War and Peace and War in The Times Higher Education Supplement by Gordon Johnson
"History has had a long, and on the whole fruitful, relationship with adjacent subjects such as archaeology and anthropology, and is just emerging from a testing (and largely negative) cohabitation with literary and cultural theory. Turchin's view of our subject from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist, versed in the hard language of mathematics, promises a great deal. He may not have invented a new science or rewritten the history of the world, but he might encourage others in the history profession to think differently and to consider whether they should take down their disciplinary scaffolding from time to time to share their ideas more effectively with a popular readership."
Gordon Johnson is president of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and general editor, The New Cambridge History of India. full text of the review
A review of War and Peace and War in Library Journal text here
A review of Historical Dynamics in Contemporary Sociology by Philip A. Schrodt
"When an individual from the natural sciences takes on a complex issue in the social sciences, the result can be either an exercise in naIve determinism bordering on the absurd, or a set of provocative insights bringing new perspectives to classical problems. In the latest volume in Princeton's 'Studies in Complexity' series, biologist Peter Turchin has accomplished the latter..." see the whole review
Another review of Historical Dynamics in Theory and History by Noël Bonneuil
"...what he [Turchin] perceives to be insights gained by mathematical modeling could as easily be seen as misconceptions aided and abetted by mathematical dust in the eyes." see the whole review
A review of Historical Dynamics in Economics of Transition by Paul Seabright
"This fascinating and ambitious book presents a number of attempts to quantify and test theories of the growth and decline of political organizations over a time-span of many centuries. The author’s ambition is to show that a rigourous quantitative theory of historical dynamics is possible—he calls it ‘cliodynamics’. This involves expressing the underlying relationships in the form of differential equations and testing predictions against various kinds of historical data. Though the underlying philosophy is a little less novel than the author recognizes—quantitative macroeconomics with political and institutional variables is becoming increasingly fashionable—the book is rich in applications of the approach and full of illuminating historical material..." see the whole review
A review of Historical Dynamics in Nature by Joseph Tainter: here
"Social theory is a minefield, even for those experienced in it. The quantification of historical patterns is useful and important, and should have a place in historical research. But sophisticated mathematics will not improve naive social theories."