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Someone Else, Somewhere Else

Peter Clarke, 13 November 1997

Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals 
edited by Niall Ferguson.
Picador, 548 pp., £20, April 1997, 9780330351324
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... Nor, he argues, was there any likelihood that Western expectations – of a kind voiced by E.H. Carr – about a possible, stable and legitimate ‘sphere of influence’ for Russia in Eastern Europe could have been compatible with an ideologically driven concept of Sovietisation. This essay demonstrates how to argue, from the evidence, that things would ...

What’s Left?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Russian Revolution, 30 March 2017

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution 
by China Miéville.
Verso, 358 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 78478 280 1
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The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 
by Mark D. Steinberg.
Oxford, 388 pp., £19.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 922762 4
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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 
by S.A. Smith.
Oxford, 455 pp., £25, January 2017, 978 0 19 873482 6
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The Russian Revolution: A New History 
by Sean McMeekin.
Basic, 496 pp., $30, May 2017, 978 0 465 03990 6
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Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution 
by Tony Brenton.
Profile, 364 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 78125 021 1
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... and Steinberg’s chapter on ‘Overcoming Empire’). In the 1960s, it was self-evident to E.H. Carr, as well as to his opponents like Leonard Schapiro, that the Russian Revolution mattered. It mattered to Schapiro because it had imposed a new political tyranny on Russia that threatened the free world, and to Carr because ...

Who’s in, who’s out?

Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka: The Nonproliferation Complex, 23 February 2012

... because it is effective but because it allows leaders to avoid dealing with that problem. As E.H. Carr argued in the 1930s, it is in situations like this that a supposedly ameliorative liberalism can often prove worse than nothing. By conveying to the public in the West the message that the blame for continuing nuclear danger lies elsewhere, the complex has ...

All the world’s a spy novel

Michael Wood: What Didn’t Happen, 30 July 2020

Counterfactuals: Paths of the Might Have Been 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £19.99, February 2019, 978 1 350 09009 5
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Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 359 pp., £26.50, January 2018, 978 0 226 51241 9
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... can have large consequences or that the quest for meaning in history is a hopeless one. E.H. Carr, curiously, comes closer to Pascal. He is willing to believe that Antony’s feelings for Cleopatra may well have had something to do with the Battle of Actium – ‘it is unnecessarily discourteous to Cleopatra’s beauty,’ he says, ‘to suggest that ...

Triumph of the Poshocracy

Susan Pedersen: Britain between the Wars, 8 August 2013

The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-45 
by Helen McCarthy.
Manchester, 282 pp., £65, November 2011, 978 0 7190 8616 8
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A Lark for the Sake of Their Country: The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory 
by Rachelle Hope Saltzman.
Manchester, 262 pp., £65, April 2012, 978 0 7190 7977 1
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... of Nations or indeed about foreign policy: its approach owes more to Tocqueville than to E.H. Carr. McCarthy’s real subject is interwar British democracy, and the LNU is a way to examine its changing practices and norms. Who signed up to be internationalism’s foot soldiers? What kind of culture sustained this popular movement? Trawling through the ...

Tricky Minds

Michael Wood: Dostoevsky, 5 September 2002

Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet 1871-81 
by Joseph Frank.
Princeton, 784 pp., £24.95, May 2002, 0 691 08665 6
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... for this line of thought, Frank very clearly shows, following up on a 1930 article by E.H. Carr, that Dostoevsky’s epilepsy most likely started in Siberia, since all the evidence except ‘family traditions’ points that way. But why would the family believe and tell such a story? Frank has a fascinating hypothesis which brings him rather closer to ...

Green, Serene

Sameer Rahim: Islamic Extremism, 19 July 2007

The Islamist 
by Ed Husain.
Penguin, 288 pp., £8.99, May 2007, 978 0 14 103043 2
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... with teachers who made him think critically about facts and sources. He was inspired by E.H. Carr; he learned that Hizb ut-Tahrir had taken many of its ideas from Rousseau and Gramsci. At the same time, he began attending Islamic study groups that focused on spirituality rather than politics. He heard a Muslim scholar reprimand those ‘who adopted ...

People and Martians

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 24 January 2019

The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 576 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 568 8
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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 412 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 567 1
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... was part of the team that produced the multi-volume A History of Soviet Russia begun by E.H. Carr (a prime target for Cold Warriors), a project which Davies had joined in Carr’s last years and continued, with younger collaborators, after Carr’s death.Conquest was a vigorous ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... what lay beneath was fit for the fire. ‘Study the historian before you study the facts,’ E.H. Carr suggested in 1961 in What Is History? Grafton does, with scholarship and zest. Francesco Patrizi studied at Padua and taught in Ferrara and Rome in the later 1500s. Inclined to philosophy, he wrote ten dialogues in admiration of Plato’s. In several, he ...

The Return of History

Raphael Samuel, 14 June 1990

... sociological hypothesis against the parish records of births, marriages and deaths. As E.H. Carr put it in 1961, brilliantly anticipating, here as elsewhere, some of ‘new wave’ history’s ruling passions, ‘the more sociological history becomes and the more historical sociology becomes, the better for both.’ Such precepts were still in the ...

Reinstall the Footlights

T.J. Clark: The Art of the Russian Revolution, 16 November 2017

... me – a scot-free Western Marxist, faithful reader of Boris Souvarine and Victor Serge and E.H. Carr – should find himself waiting in the Memorial room for the ‘great’ victims, the Mandelstams, the Florenskys, the Kamenevs, the Bukharins, to appear alongside the entirely, uniquely ordinary ones. It was the ordinariness and uniqueness that mattered, I ...

British Chill

Anatol Lieven: What E.H. Carr Got Right, 24 August 2000

The Vices of Integrity: E.H. Carr 1892-1928 
by Jonathan Haslam.
Verso, 306 pp., £25, July 1999, 1 85984 733 1
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... Three years after E.H. Carr’s death in 1982, Mikhail Gorbachev began the process which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Soviet Communism, a development which at first sight renders Carr’s life’s work not only irrelevant but absurd, based as it was on a profound admiration for Soviet achievements ...


Stefan Collini: Herbert Butterfield, 21 July 2005

Herbert Butterfield: Historian as Dissenter 
by C.T. McIntire.
Yale, 499 pp., £30, August 2005, 0 300 09807 3
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... It’s a stylish but oddly elusive work in which proper names are strikingly rare. E.H. Carr was being only slightly unfair when, in What Is History?, published thirty years later, he mocked Butterfield for attacking the Whig interpretation of history without naming ‘a single Whig except Fox, who was no historian, or a single historian save ...

Walsingham’s Plumber

Patrick Collinson: John Bossy, 5 July 2001

Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story 
by John Bossy.
Yale, 189 pp., £18.95, May 2001, 0 300 08400 5
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... events. But he has not turned Post-Modern. The events still matter more than the storyteller. E.H. Carr’s suggestion that it was necessary to study the historian before you begin to study the facts is here called ‘dreary’. ‘Carr’s facts were more interesting than Carr, and mine ...

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