R.W. Davies

R.W. Davies is a professor at the Centre for Russian and European Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Yeltsin’s first volume of autobiography, Against the Grain (1990), showed how he emerged from obscurity as a defender of democracy and social justice. In March 1989, against the wishes of Gorbachev and the Party bosses, he was elected Mayor of Moscow with nearly 90 per cent of the vote. In his second volume, The View from the Kremlin (1994), Yeltsin described how in June 1991 he became...

Peaches from Our Tree

R.W. Davies, 7 September 1995

In 1969 Stalin’s closest associate, Vyasheslav Molotov, in retirement and disgrace, transferred to the Central Party Archive in Moscow 77 letters and notes which he had received from Stalin in the tumultuous decade 1925-36. The letters were stored in complete secrecy for 20 years. In 1989 they were made available to a handful of Soviet historians, and the following year 20 of the most important letters were published in Soviet journals. Now we have two fine parallel editions of the whole set of letters in Russian and English. The Russian editors were working under serious constraints, however. ‘Materials about decisions on many questions dealt with in Stalin’s letters are still kept in secrecy in the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation; in many cases this was an obstacle to the preparation of commentaries,’ they remark with acid restraint. On the other hand, the Presidential Archive has issued a volume of documents – Iosif Stalin v Obyatiyakh Semi (‘Joseph Stalin in the Embrace of His Family’) – containing Stalin’s correspondence in 1928-31 with his wife Nadezhda Allilueva, who committed suicide in 1932, and letters from Allilueva and Stalin to his mother.’

Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Western historians have been struggling for decades to get into the archives of the Stalin period. In the early Eighties, before Gorbachev took office, we were granted very limited access, but were forbidden to see the finding aids and were segregated in a special foreigners’ reading-room. The real transformation came after the defeat of the August 1991 coup. The following month, the party archives made available reports of plenary meetings of the Party Central Committee from the Thirties, as well as Politburo minutes of that time, to both of which I had been refused access the previous April.


E.H. Carr

10 January 1983

SIR: E.H. Carr’s History of Soviet Russia is a complicated work, and demands diligence and hard thinking from the reader. Mr Stone’s denunciation (LRB, 10 January) is deficient in both respects.His specific references to the History are misleading and slipshod. He reproves Carr for dismissing the Stolypin reform ‘in a few sentences’, but Carr has over three pages on the reform in the History...

Russians and the Russian Past

John Barber, 9 November 1989

Observers of Soviet politics in recent months might be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu. The summer began with the first sessions of the Congress of People’s Deputies and...

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What is progress?

William Doyle, 6 March 1986

I never knew E.H. Carr. I never heard him lecture, even on the radio. But I once saw him in Cambridge, and that was memorable enough. The History of Soviet Russia, begun when he was in his...

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