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Soviet Revisions

Oleg Gordievsky, 7 February 1991

Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy 
by Dmitri Volkogonov, edited and translated by Harold Shukman.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £29.95, February 1991, 0 297 81080 4
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Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations 
by Walter Laqueur.
Unwin Hyman, 383 pp., £16.95, February 1991, 0 04 440769 6
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The Prosecutor and the Prey: Vyshinsky and the 1930s Moscow Show Trials 
by Arkady Vaksberg, translated by Jan Butler.
Weidenfeld, 374 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 297 81064 2
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... Dmitri Volkogonov, General of the Soviet Army, head of the Institute of Military History and admirer of Gorbachev, has produced the most authoritative biography of Stalin we have read so far. There is no doubt that he had many advantages over Western biographers of Stalin, of whose work he seems to have made little use ...

The firm went bankrupt

John Barber, 5 October 1995

Lenin: His Life and Legacy 
by Dmitri Volkogonov, translated and edited by Harold Shukman.
HarperCollins, 529 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 00 255270 1
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Lenin: A Political Life. Vol. III: The Iron Ring 
by Robert Service.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £45, January 1995, 0 333 29392 4
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... that biographies of Lenin need no longer be loaded with value judgments about the Soviet Union. Dmitri Volkogonov enjoyed unique access to hitherto unpublished Lenin documents in the former Central Party Archives (3724 in all, he tells us) and to other classified material of major significance, including records of Party Conferences and Congresses. His ...

The Old Man

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Trotsky, 22 April 2010

Trotsky: A Biography 
by Robert Service.
Macmillan, 600 pp., £9.99, April 2010, 978 0 330 43969 5
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Stalin’s Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky 
by Bertrand Patenaude.
Faber, 472 pp., £9.99, March 2010, 978 0 571 22876 8
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... in the late 1980s, but the collapse of the Soviet Union ensured that it was short-lived. In 1992 Dmitri Volkogonov, a former general in the Soviet army who had made a splash a few years earlier with a revisionist biography of Stalin, came out with a sensational Trotsky biography (published in English in 1996), drawing on new sources, including the NKVD ...

Just like that

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Second-Guessing Stalin, 5 April 2018

Stalin, Vol. II: Waiting for Hitler, 1928-41 
by Stephen Kotkin.
Allen Lane, 1154 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 7139 9945 7
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... Henri Barbusse admired his subject, Trotsky and Isaac Deutscher wanted to cut him down to size. Dmitri Volkogonov wrote in late Soviet disillusionment, and the German historian Jörg Baberowski in contemptuous disgust. When I was writing my study of Stalin and his closest associates, On Stalin’s Team, I toyed with the conceit that, by taking my point ...

Perestroika and its Discontents

John Lloyd, 11 July 1991

Moscow and Beyond: 1986-1989 
by Andrei Sakharov.
Hutchinson, 168 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 09 174972 7
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Fatal Half-Measures: The Allure of Democracy in the Soviet Union 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, edited and translated by Antonia Bovis.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 316 96883 8
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... Soviet period, including the most recent. Even the biography of Stalin by the military historian Dmitri Volkogonov is as much a reflection of the priorities of the age of Gorbachev – that is, to effect a complete break between Lenin and Stalin, keeping the halo more or less burnished above the head of the first while hauling the second deeper into the ...

A Regular Bull

Christopher Hitchens, 31 July 1997

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography 
by Sam Tanenhaus.
Random House, 640 pp., $35, February 1997, 0 394 58559 3
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... to look in their files and clear his name which, under the stewardship of the late General Dmitri Volkogonov, they briefly did. This impressed a good number of people: why would Hiss take the risk of asking for a search in the first place? However, subsequent disclosures from the Hungarian archives, chiefly concerning the bewildering quadruple ...

The View from Poklonnaya Gora

John Lloyd, 3 October 1996

Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis 
by Timothy Colton.
Harvard, 958 pp., £25.95, January 1996, 0 674 58741 3
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... would-be assassin was identified – possibly wrongly, according to Lenin’s Soviet biographer, Dmitri Volkogonov – as Dora Kaplan, a Social Revolutionary and former Tsarist political prisoner, who testified that she shot him because he was a traitor to the socialist cause: by no stretch of the imagination could she be said to be a White agent. The ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: Stalin’s Origins, 1 November 2007

Young Stalin 
by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 297 85068 7
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... In his 1988 biography, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, the first to be based on archival research, Dmitri Volkogonov presented both a real person, capable of emotional reactions and contradictions, and, more surprisingly, a real intellectual who remained a serious, wide-ranging reader all his life. Later biographies followed this up; the theme of high ...

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