Steven Cook ’90

Company / School: Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Position / Degree: Senior Fellow


  • BA, International Studies, Vassar College
  • MA, American Foreign Policy & Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • PhD, Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Steven A. Cook (he/him) is Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa studies and director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Steven is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East; The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the 2012 gold medal from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and Ruling but Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. Oxford University Press is publishing his next book, The End of Ambition: America’s Past, Present, and Future in the Middle East, in June 2024.

Advice to Students:

Relax. You have a whole life to work. Post-graduation is a time for experimentation because despite being an adult, you don’t have many adult responsibilities yet. After I graduated, I worked for six months in the business world. I hated it, so I packed up what little stuff I had and moved to DC and lived on the couch in an apartment that Vassar buddies rented. We had zero money. Lived on Taco Bell and free food at DC happy hours. Then we all moved abroad for various periods of time. Those kinds of experiences made us better at what we do and who we are as people.

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