Olav NjølstadOlav Njølstad (b. 1957) is Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo, and Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. He has a PhD in history and holds an adjunct professorship in western contemporary history at the University of Oslo. In 2011-2012 he served as senior advisor to the governmental commission investigating the mass killings and terrorist attacks by right-wing extremists Anders B. Breivik on 22 July 2011.

Njølstad has published a number of academic books and articles on the Cold War, the role of nuclear weapons in international politics, on arms races and disarmament, the history of military and civilian nuclear technology, as well as on the Second World War in Norway and Norwegian postwar history.

Njølstad has authored and co-authored five monographs, including two historical biographies. In addition, he has published six edited volumes, as editor or co-editor, and a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Njølstad has published his work in Journal of Strategic Studies, Cold War History, Journal of Cold War Studies, Passato e presente, Atom [Moskva], Peace & Change, Scandinavian Journal of History, The Cambridge History of the Cold War as well as in books, journals and newspapers in Norwegian.

In 2010, Njølstad received the Sverre Steen award for excellence in the dissemination of history to the general public (awarded by the Norwegian Historical Association) for his best-selling biography on former Minister of Defense and leader of the military resistance in Norway during the Second World War, Mr. Jens Chr. Hauge. He is currently working on a political biography on former Norwegian Prime Minister, Ms. Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Njølstad is a member of the Norwegian Historical Association (HIFO), a member of the editorial board of Cold War History (London), and an elected member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Selected publications by Professor Olav Njølstad


Monographs and biographies

Njølstad, Professor Tronstads krig. Oslo, 2012: Aschehoug.

Njølstad, Jens Chr. Hauge – fullt og helt. Oslo, 2008: Aschehoug.

Njølstad, Strålende forskning. Institutt for energiteknikk, 1948-1998. Oslo, 1999: Aschehoug.

Njølstad & Wicken, Kunnskap som våpen. Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt, 1946-1975. Oslo, 1997: Tano-Aschehoug.

Njølstad, Peacekeeper and Troublemaker: The Containment Policy of Jimmy Carter,1977-1978. PhD dissertation (University of Oslo). Published by IFS, Oslo, 1995.



Edited volumes


Steen & Njølstad, eds., Nuclear Disarmament: A Critical Assessment. London, 2019: Routledge.

Njølstad, ed., Nuclear Proliferation and International Order: Challenges to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. London & New York, 2011: Routledge.

Njølstad, ed. Norwegian Nobel Prize Laureates. From Bjørnson to Kydland. Oslo, 2005: Universitetsforlaget.

Njølstad, ed.,The Last Decade of the Cold War: From Conflict Escalation to Conflict Transformation. London, 2004: Frank Cass.

Lundestad & Njølstad, eds. War and Peace in the 20th Century and Beyond, London, 2003: World Scientific.

Gjelstad & Njølstad, eds. Nuclear Rivalry and International Order. London, 1996: Sage.

Gleditsch & Njølstad, eds. Arms Races: Technological and Political Dynamics. London, 1990: Sage.


Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters


Njølstad, "The Development of the Arms Race and How We Think About It", pp. 167-190 in

Lundestad, red., International Relations Since the End of the Cold War. Oxford, 2013: Oxford University Press.

Njølstad, “The collapse of superpower détente 1975-1980”, pp. 135-155 in M. Leffler & O.A.

Westad, eds. The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Vol. III, Cambridge, 2010: Cambridge University Press.

Njølstad, ”Atomic intelligence in Norway during the Cold War”, Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 29, no. 4 (August 2006), pp. 653-673.

Njølstad, “Shifting priorities: the Persian Gulf in US strategic planning in the Carter years”, Journal of Cold War History, vol. 4, no. 3 (April 2004), pp. 21-55.

Njølstad, ”The Carter legacy: Entering the Second Era of the Cold War”, chapter 14 in Njølstad, ed.,The Last Decade of the Cold War (2004).

Njølstad, “Beretningen om en varslet provokasjon: Norske og sovjetiske perspektiver på 50-megatonnssprengningen over Novaja Zemlja i 1961”, pp. 355-397 i Holtsmark, Pharo & Tamnes, ed. Motstrøms: Olav Riste og norsk internasjonal historieskrivning, Oslo, 2003: Cappelen.

Njølstad, ”The Carter Administration and Italy: Keeping the Communists out of power without interfering”, Journal of Cold War Studies, vol. 4, no. 3 (2002), pp. 56-94.

Njølstad, “Come tenere i comunisti fuori dal governo senza ingerenze: l’amministrazione Carter e l’Italia (1977-78)”, Passato e presente, a. XVI (1998), no. 45, pp. 57-84.

Njølstad, ”The Norwegian Nobel Committee and the Bomb, 1945-1999”, Peace & Change, vol. 26, no. 4 (2001), pp. 488-509.

Njølstad, "Keys of Keys? SALT II and the Breakdown of Détente", ch. 2 in Westad, ed., The Fall of Détente: Soviet-American Relations during the Carter Years. Oslo, 1997: Scandinavian University Press.

Njølstad, Under en radioaktiv himmel: Norge og atomprøvespregningene, 1955-1963IFS, Forsvarsstudier, no. 3, 1996.

Njølstad, "Fissionable Consensus: Scandinavia and the Quest for International Atomic Energy Control, 1946-1950", pp. 349-364, Scandinavian Journal of History, no. 4, 1994.

Njølstad, In Search of Superiority – U.S. Nuclear Policies during the Cold War, IFS, Forsvarsstudier, no. 1, 1994.

Njølstad, Cuba-krisen 1962, IFS, Forsvarsstudier, no. 2, 1993.

Njølstad, Détente – et mislykket avspenningsforsøk? IFS, Forsvarsstudier, no. 8, 1990.

Njølstad, ”Learning from history? Case studies and the limits to theory-building”, pp. 220-246 in Gleditsch & Njølstad, eds. Arms Races (1990).