Sutton studied at the universities of London, Goettingen and California and received his D.Sc. degree from University of Southampton, England. He was an economics professor at California State University Los Angeles and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution from 1968 to 1973. During his time at the Hoover Institute he wrote the major study Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (in three volumes), arguing that the West played a major role in developing the Soviet Union from its very beginnings up until the present time (1970). Sutton alleged that the Soviet Union's technological and manufacturing base...which was then engaged in supplying the Viet Cong -- was built by United States corporations and largely funded by US taxpayers. Steel and iron plants, the GAZ automobile factory - a Ford subsidiary, located in eastern Russia - and many other Soviet industrial enterprises were, according to Sutton, built with the help or technical assistance of the United States or U.S. corporations. He alleged further that the Soviet Union's acquisition of MIRV technology was made possible by receiving (from U.S. sources) machining equipment for the manufacture of precision ball bearings, necessary to mass-produce MIRV-enabled missiles.
In 1973 Sutton published a popularized, condensed version of the three volumes called National Suicide: Military Aid to the Soviet Union, and was thereby forced out of the Hoover Institution. His conclusion from his research on the issue was that the conflicts of the Cold War were "not fought to restrain communism", since the United States, through financing the Soviet Union "directly or indirectly armed both sides in at least Korea and Vietnam"; rather, these wars were organised in order "to generate multibillion-dollar armaments contracts".
Sutton's next three major published books Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler and Wall Street and FDR detailed Wall Street's alleged involvement in the Russian Revolution (in order to destroy Russia as an economic competitor and turn into "a captive market and a technical colony to be exploited by a few high-powered American financiers and the corporations under their control") as well as its purportedly decisive contributions to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose policies he assessed as being essentially the same, namely "corporate socialism" planned by the big corporations. Sutton concluded that this was all part of the economical power elites' "long-range program of nurturing collectivism" and fostering "corporate socialism" in order to ensure "monopoly acquisition of wealth", because it "would fade away if it were exposed to the activity of a free market". In his view, the only solution to prevent such abuse in the future was that "a majority of individuals declares or acts as if it wants nothing from government, declares it will look after its own welfare and interests", or specifically that "a majority finds the moral courage and the internal fortitude to reject the something-for-nothing con game and replace it by voluntary associations, voluntary communes, or local rule and decentralized societies". In Sutton's own words he was "persecuted but never prosecuted" for his research and subsequent publication of his findings.
In the early 1980s, Sutton used publicly available information on Skull and Bones membership (such information is available, among other places, in Yale yearbooks) to speculate about political and economic relationships underlying significant historical events and about what he regarded as the purposes of these relationships. He published his conjectures as America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones -- which, according to Sutton, was his most important work. The first page states, "Under the memorandum Number One: Is there a conspiracy explanation for Recent History? The reader anxious to get into 'The Order' should directly go under Memorandum Number Two. This section concerns methods, evidence and proof. Essential, but perhaps boring for most readers."
In his book, Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era (New York: Viking Press;1970), Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote:
For impressive evidence of Western participation in the early phase of Soviet economic growth, see Antony C. Sutton's Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development: 1917-1930, which argues that 'Soviet economic development for 1917-1930 was essentially dependent on Western technological aid' (p.283), and that 'at least 95 per cent of the industrial structure received this assistance.' (p. 348).
Professor Richard Pipes, of Harvard, said in his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America's Future (Simon & Schuster;1984):
In his three-volume detailed account of Soviet Purchases of Western Equipment and Technology ..." Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as 'extreme' or, more often, simply ignored.