Topics Discussed in Lex Fridman Podcast #335 – Lex Fridman & Fiona Hill: Education and career, Donbas in the 20th century, Soviet Union, Donald Trump’s foreign policy, Testifying against Donald Trump, US administrations, Impeachment of Donald Trump, Why people like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Invasion of Ukraine, NATO implication in Ukraine war, Interviewing Vladimir Putin, 2024 elections, Alexei Navalny, Nuclear war, How Ukraine war will end, Hope for the future, Advice for young people and much more.

Lex Fridman Podcast: Conversations about science, technology, history, philosophy and the nature of intelligence, consciousness, love, and power. Lex is an AI researcher at MIT and beyond.

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Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill is a British-American foreign affairs specialist and author. She is a former official at the U.S. National Security Council, specializing in Russian and European affairs. She was a witness in the November 2019 House hearings regarding the impeachment inquiry during the first impeachment of Donald Trump. She earned a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1998. She currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. She will take up office as Chancellor of Durham University in England in summer 2023. While at Harvard, Hill was a Frank Knox Fellow. Her doctoral thesis was In search of great Russia: elites, ideas, power, the state, and the pre-revolutionary past in the new Russia, 1991-1996.Find the books mentioned in her conversation with Lex Fridman below.

Books Mentioned in this Podcast with Lex Fridman & Fiona Hill:

Book Title: There is Nothing for You Here

Author: Fiona Hill

Book Title: Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union

Author: Vladislav M. Zubok

Book Title: War and Peace

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Book Title: 100 Reasons to Vote Democrat

Author: Mike Rotchburns

Book Title: The Russian Revolution

Author: Richard Pipes

Book Title: Mr. Putin

Author: Fiona Hill & Clifford G. Gaddy

Fiona Hill on Lex Fridman Podcast: A Deep Dive into Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and More

In a captivating episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast, Fiona Hill, a renowned presidential advisor and foreign policy expert, shares her profound insights into the minds of world leaders like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Moreover, Hill narrates her incredible journey from a coal mining town in Northeast England to the corridors of power in the White House.

Understanding Vladimir Putin: A Call for Strategic Empathy

Hill emphasizes the need for "strategic empathy" when analyzing leaders like Putin. She believes it's crucial to understand the context and rationale behind their actions. While Putin is often viewed with skepticism in the West, Hill suggests that he is a rational actor within his own frame of reference. Understanding his motivations and reactions can guide international interactions and prevent miscalculations.

Geopolitical Concerns: Russia, Ukraine, and Nuclear Threats

The conversation touches upon pressing geopolitical issues, such as the potential threat of Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. While the specific outcomes of these scenarios are uncertain, Hill's expertise offers listeners a nuanced perspective on the complexities of international relations.

Fiona Hill's Personal Journey: From Humble Beginnings to the White House

Beyond geopolitics, Hill delves into her personal story, recounting her early life in a declining coal mining town in Northeast England. Born in 1965, she witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by her community as coal mines shut down, and her father, a miner, grappled with unemployment. Despite these hardships, Hill's resilience and determination propelled her to the highest echelons of U.S. foreign policy, serving under multiple administrations and advising on critical issues related to Russia.

Book Insights: "There's Nothing for You Here"

Fiona Hill's memoir, "There's Nothing for You Here," captures her remarkable journey. Through her narrative, readers gain a unique perspective on the intersections of personal history, geopolitics, and the intricate dynamics of global power.


This episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast provides a comprehensive exploration of global geopolitics through the lens of Fiona Hill. Her insights into world leaders, combined with her personal story, offer listeners a multifaceted view of international relations, leadership, and the indomitable human spirit.