From ‘NB’, in tomorrow’s TLS:
Readers who depend on Amazon for reviews of new books might have stumbled on one in response to Molotov’s Magic Lantern by Rachel Polonsky. The Amazon reviewer did not like it at all… The reviewer’s “nickname” is given as “Historian” and also as “orlando-birkbeck”. He or she appears to be something of an authority on Russian subjects, having already posted notices of books on Stalin, Trotsky, and Robert Service’s Comrades (“awful”). Orlando-birkbeck has also tackled The Whisperers: Private life in Stalin’s Russia by Orlando Figes, Professor of History at Birkbeck College, London. This time, orlando-birkbeck was mightily pleased… Some Amazon commenters are under the impression that Orlando Figes and orlando-birkbeck are one and the same… We find these suggestions implausible, and are confident that Professor Figes will tell us they are mistaken.
‘NB’ doesn’t mention that orlando-birkbeck also rubbished Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: ‘Oh dear, what on earth were the judges thinking when they gave this book the Samuel Johnson Prize?’ By coincidence, one of the books shortlisted for the prize in the year that Summerscale won was The Whisperers by Orlando Figes (‘I hope he writes forever’ – orlando-birkbeck). If you want to read orlando-birkbeck’s reviews for yourself you’ll be disappointed, however, since they’ve now for some mysterious reason been taken down from the site.