Perhaps the liveliest pioneer in Soviet studies in the West is the Australian Sheila Fitzpatrick. She has been at the forefront of her field for over forty years, but only recently has she let her own personality out of the bag in the second part of what may turn out to be an extensive autobiography (the first was My Father’s Daughter of 2010). Australia might not seem the most nutritive hotbed for a student of Soviet archives, but Melbourne in the 1960s contained a heady mix of Anglo-Saxons cheerfully sympathetic to anything that called itself socialism and émigré Russians fit only to survive in a Nabokov novel, whose experience of, and escape from, the USSR was often too terrible for them even to talk about. Melbourne University’s Russian department, with the formidable and assertive Nina Christesen in the left corner and the gentle Igor Mezhakov-Koriakin in the right, was a typical case; the tension was bound to propel a brilliant student into Soviet research to find where truth lay.
The second feature of Fitzpatrick’s career that I recognise is the antagonism between fellow-travelling parents, determined not to have their faith shattered by any revelations, and a child impatient with their blind eyes and