Hell and After

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In 1968 the city of Tübingen rather fatuously invited its Jews to return. There were very few able or willing to accept that invitation. However, once the million or more survivors of the Gulag were released (or ‘unloaded’, to use the Russian term), they were usually not invited anywhere. They received a railway ticket, a […]

On Red Alert

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘I’ll launch a few proclamations and then shut up shop,’ announced Trotsky when he took over as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1917. The policy did not quite work out. Soon he was going in for the usual secret diplomacy, playing the Germans off against the Western powers. By 1921 there was a regular […]

Stingers In The Tale

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

This well-organised and well-written history of the last Soviet foreign war is extremely useful and timely. Within the USSR, a totalitarian state, there was practically no trustworthy information whatsoever about the conflict in Afghanistan – hence the virtual absence of public reaction, let alone opposition, to it (so different from the situation in the USA […]

Chilling Tales

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

David Satter is one of the minority of historians of Soviet Russia not to be deceived into false optimism by its collapse. His three earlier works were provoked by the gangsterism of Yeltsin’s oligarchs and by the Hitlerian cynicism of Putin, blowing up his own citizens to give himself a pretext for bombing Chechnya to […]

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‘Engineers of Souls’

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘Two Romes have fallen, Moscow is the third, and there will be no fourth!’ The title of Katerina Clark’s cultural history of the Soviet 1930s is taken from the resonant prophecy of the sixteenth-century Russian monk, Filofei of Pskov, who proclaimed Moscow the final centre of Christendom. Sergei Eisenstein invoked the monk’s words in a […]

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