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7 September 1995
Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936 
edited by Lars Lih, Oleg Naumov and Oleg Khlevniuk.
Yale, 276 pp., £16.95, May 1995, 0 300 06211 7
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Pisma I.V. Stalina V.M. Molotovu, 1925-1936: Sbornik Dokumentov 
compiled by L. Kosheleva, V. Lelchuk, V. Naumov, O. Naumov and L. Rogovaya.
Rossiya Molodaya, 303 pp., May 1995, 5 86646 071 8
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Iosif Stalin​ v Obyatiyakh Semi: Iz Lichnogo Arkhiva 
compiled by Yu. G. Murin.
Rodina, 222 pp., July 1993, 5 7330 0043 0
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... 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 ...

Unfair to Stalin

Robert Service

17 March 1988
Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Collins, 254 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 00 215660 1
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The Birth of Stalinism: The USSR on the Eve of the ‘Second Revolution’ 
by Michal Reiman, translated by George Saunders.
Tauris, 188 pp., £24.50, November 1987, 1 85043 066 7
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Stalin​ in October: The Man who Missed the Revolution 
by Robert Slusser.
Johns Hopkins, 281 pp., £20.25, December 1987, 0 8018 3457 0
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... Since 1956 it has been official policy in the USSR to criticise the abuses of power by JosephStalin in the period of the so-called Cult of the Individual. It is a widely-held misconception in the West that such criticism ended in the Brezhnev years. In fact, party textbooks continued to castigate ...
22 June 1989
Memoirs 
by Andrei Gromyko, translated by Harold Shukman.
Hutchinson, 365 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 09 173808 3
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Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy 
by Anders Stephanson.
Harvard, 424 pp., $35, April 1989, 0 674 50265 5
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... no contribution to glasnost or to any re-examination of Cold War history. Indeed, those Western revisionists who think that the Cold War could have been avoided with a little more accommodation of Stalin’s demands will find a pretty severe douche in Gromyko’s turgid and plodding prose, with its endless reiteration of the correctness of Soviet policy and the official Kremlin propaganda line ...

Great Scream

Keith Middlemas

2 July 1981
Uprising! One Nation’s Nightmare: Hungary 1956 
by David Irving.
Hodder, 628 pp., £13.50, March 1981, 0 340 18313 6
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... in 1948. A small matter perhaps, but a pointer to a larger difficulty: the focus is so narrow. There is nothing here about the problems and tensions of a Soviet Union facing the consequences of post-Stalin relaxation; very little on earlier uprisings in East Germany and Poland in 1953, or on the Polish October itself. Shown in isolation, Hungarian leaders behave as if they had no continuous rapport ...
2 December 1993
Patrick Hamilton: A Life 
by Sean French.
Faber, 327 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 571 14353 9
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... satiric anatomy, for Hamilton if not for his latest biographer, was thoroughly political in intent. He encountered Marxism in the early Thirties, knocked around with Claud Cockburn, and discovered in Stalin the benevolent daddy he never had at Hassocks. French dismisses his politics as a private quirk; but though his Marxism was certainly idiosyncratic – what other Communist cheered on the invasion of ...

The Sound of Thunder

Tom Nairn: The Miners’ Strike

8 October 2009
Marching to the Fault Line: The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain 
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.
Constable, 303 pp., £18.99, February 2009, 978 1 84901 025 2
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Shafted: The Media, the Miners’ Strike and the Aftermath 
edited by Granville Williams.
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 176 pp., £9.99, March 2009, 978 1 898240 05 1
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... to national standing and power. Most far left leaders and groups in Britain have been drawn to the model of the rebellious exile Leon Trotsky. But Scargill has always preferred Trotsky’s enemy JosephStalin. He is an unswerving member of the British Stalin Society. In Heroes and Hero-Worship, Thomas Carlyle pointed out that modern leader-figures must give voice to emerging currents of social ...

All the Russias

J. Arch Getty

30 August 1990
Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR 
by Bohdan Nahaylo and Victor Swoboda.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 241 12540 5
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... nationalities hate each other. The national problem is an inextricable part of Soviet and Communist Party history. It is worth remembering that Lenin’s only serious political dispute with Stalin was over the latter’s handling of national problems (Stalin and his henchmen were too brutal for Lenin’s taste on one occasion). National issues, moreover, have been the stuff of Soviet ...

Who remembers the Poles?

Richard J. Evans: Between Hitler and Stalin

4 November 2010
Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin 
by Timothy Snyder.
Bodley Head, 524 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08141 2
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... or killed. But the Nazis were by no means the only architects of the suffering that the people who lived in this part of Europe had to endure in the 1930s and 1940s. Hitler’s enemy in the East, JosephStalin, was just as murderous in his pursuit of a utopian programme, different though Stalinist Communism might have been from the hierarchical racist ideology of the Nazis. Up to five million people ...

To the End of the Line

Ferdinand Mount: The Red Dean

26 April 2012
The Red Dean of Canterbury: The Public and Private Faces of Hewlett Johnson 
by John Butler.
Scala, 292 pp., £16.95, September 2011, 978 1 85759 736 3
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... the most famous men in the world. Almost from the moment he was made dean of Canterbury in 1931, he became instantly recognisable everywhere as the Red Dean. His faith in the Communist Party, and in Stalin in particular, was unshakeable. Purges and famines, executions and persecutions passed him by. Though he never saw the need actually to join the Party, he remained a tankie to the last, until he was ...

Deaths at Two O’Clock

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Suicide in the USSR

17 February 2011
Lost to the Collective: Suicide and the Promise of Soviet Socialism, 1921-29 
by Kenneth Pinnow.
Cornell, 276 pp., £32.95, March 2011, 978 0 8014 4766 2
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... because he doesn’t even know that there is a Podsekalnikov in the Soviet Union. One can understand the censors’ nervousness about putting on the play, which, despite lukewarm encouragement from Stalin, was pulled from production at the Meyerhold Theatre on the eve of its premiere in the autumn of 1932. This was probably just as well, since Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda Allilueva, killed herself a few ...

Pictures of Ourselves

P.N. Johnson-Laird

22 December 1983
Consciousness Regained: Chapters in the Development of Mind 
by Nicholas Humphrey.
Oxford, 222 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 9780192177322
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... mutually assured destruction’ as a deterrent, and I would prefer some human beings to survive rather than none, even if those human beings were morally equivalent to Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and JosephStalin. And I grant that if there is a nuclear war only individuals of such vastly diminished moral stature – viz. those responsible for the war – are likely to survive. However, even if one ...

Past Its Peak

Robert Vitalis: The Oil Curse

17 December 2009
Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil 
by Peter Maass.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84614 246 8
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... is its throne,’ he wrote in Baku: An Eventful History. But the Russian industry was even then beginning a precipitous decline following a series of crippling strikes in the oilfields led by a young JosephStalin, and rebellion was spreading across the Caucasus. Dodds wrote of the waves of ‘inter-racial savagery’ between Muslim Tatars and Armenian Christians that had laid waste to the refineries ...

Stalin​ at the Movies

Peter Wollen: The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism by J. Hoberman

25 November 1999
The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism 
by J. Hoberman.
Temple, 315 pp., £27.95, November 1998, 1 56639 643 3
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... is a cinematic montage of reflections on the long-drawn-out demise of the former Soviet Union, seen through the eyes of a New York journalist and film critic: a process that began with the death of Stalin and ended with the sale of chunks of the Berlin Wall in Bloomingdale’s. Hoberman chronicles these events from the point of view of three related personae: the thoughtful Jewish New Yorker, reading ...
3 September 1987
... Attorney-General. Sure, it invents news; that’s OK. Sure, its election coverage consisted of Page Three girls wearing Tory rosettes on – well, you can guess where. True, it featured articles by JosephStalin (‘Why I’m voting Labour’) and Winston Churchill (‘Why I’m voting for Maggie’). The actual authorship of these articles may be controversial but no complaint has been received from ...

October!

John Lloyd

21 October 1993
... colourful or otherwise, had been resolved) with the little hammer and sickle at the top left. There was a handful of elderly men and women who walked, solitary more often than not, with a portrait of JosephStalin on a pole or clasped like an icon to their chests. There was the Andreyevsky (St Andrew’s) flag and the black, yellow and white flag, a reassertion of the right to rule of Imperial Russia ...

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