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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 ...

La Perestroika

Harold Perkin, 24 January 1991

The Second Socialist Revolution: An Alternative Soviet Strategy 
by Tatyana Zaslavskaya, translated by Susan Davies.
Tauris, 241 pp., £19.95, February 1990, 1 85043 151 5
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... several years before the word “perestroika” was uttered for the first time, and I shared Gorbachev’s views long before he became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and made his political programme public.’ She was one of the small group of intellectuals whose critique of the Soviet economy convinced ...

The Party’s over

John Lloyd, 25 July 1991

... to build Communism through a third programme; and in 1986, a year after the access to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, a ‘New Edition’ was adopted at the 28th Party Congress which incorporated some new elements, including a softer international line and the idea of ‘self-financing’ for business enterprises. Otherwise, the ‘New ...

The best one can hope for

John Lloyd, 22 October 1992

Soviet Politics, 1917-1991 
by Mary McAuley.
Oxford, 132 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 19 878066 4
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What went wrong with perestroika? 
by Marshall Goldman.
Norton, 282 pp., £12.95, January 1992, 0 393 03071 7
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Boris Yeltsin: A Political Biography 
by Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova.
Weidenfeld, 320 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 297 81252 1
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... determine the style of government. Marshall Goldman, in What went wrong with perestroika?, quotes Gorbachev as saying, in December 1991: ‘A General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a dictator who knew no equal in the world at that time. No one possessed more power, no one, do you understand?’ It is too soon for the system to have ...

Up against the wall

Neal Ascherson, 25 June 1992

My Life in Politics 
by Willy Brandt.
Hamish Hamilton, 498 pp., £20, April 1992, 0 241 13073 5
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... Germany. Communism has collapsed throughout Europe. The Soviet Union has fallen and disintegrated. Mikhail Gorbachev – a figure who appeared as Brandt was leaving the stage, but who seemed for a time to incarnate everything the old Social Democrat had ever hoped for – has fallen too, and gone to that well-paid limbo in lecture-land where Brandt’s ...

Will the Empire ever end?

John Lloyd, 27 January 1994

Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics 
by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Oxford, 221 pp., £17.95, March 1993, 0 19 827787 3
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Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States 
edited by Ian Bremner and Ray Taras.
Cambridge, 577 pp., £55, December 1993, 0 521 43281 2
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The Post-Soviet Nations 
edited by Alexander Motyl.
Columbia, 322 pp., £23, November 1993, 0 231 07894 3
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The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence 
by Anatol Lieven.
Yale, 454 pp., £22.50, June 1993, 0 300 05552 8
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... lived through similar conditions or worse. Zhirinovsky notes with contempt, however, that Mikhail Gorbachev, son of the chairman of a collective farm in the rich Stavropol area of southern Russia, led the life of a little ‘country lord’. They all shared in the experience of racial mixing and Russian domination, in which the problem of ...

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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... domestic and foreign policies. Stalin was never rehabilitated, but his name ceased to be anathema. Gorbachev, coming to power in 1985, has done more than any Soviet leader since Khrushchev to restore the critical side to dominance in treatments of the Stalin question. New projects on Stalin, especially since the January 1987 Plenum of the Central ...


Owen Bennett-Jones: Night Shifts at Bush House, 8 July 1993

... parts of the business. The most famous praise for the World Service in recent times came from Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of the failed coup and from the Beirut hostages on their release. This all went down very well in Bush House with staff talking of how the battles with their bio-rhythms were at last receiving public acknowledgment. But even ...

Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John Lewis Gaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... to at least the prospect of elimination. Few people took Reagan’s rhetoric seriously, until Mikhail Gorbachev sensed, on meeting the President for the first time in Geneva in 1985, that he might actually mean what he was saying. The new Soviet leader tested this possibility with a proposal for the outright abolition of nuclear weapons by the year ...


Robert Service, 24 January 1991

The Russian Revolution 1899-1919 
by Richard Pipes.
Harvill, 946 pp., £20, December 1990, 0 00 272086 8
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... the national commitment to Soviet studies. The transformation of the Soviet political scene under Gorbachev has ended such bifurcation. A reversion to the traditions of the earliest Sovietology has occurred. Founding figures such as E.H. Carr and Leonard Schapiro were renowned for their ability to write as knowledgeably about 1917 as about the latest ...

Cultivating Their Dachas

Sheila Fitzpatrick: ‘Zhivago’s Children’, 10 September 2009

Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia 
by Vladislav Zubok.
Harvard, 453 pp., £25.95, May 2009, 978 0 674 03344 3
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... bureaucrats’ like Anatoly Cherniaev, and a young Communist with a bright future, Mikhail Gorbachev, and his future wife, Raisa, both students at Moscow State University in the first half of the 1950s. Most accounts of the late Stalin period foreground the ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ campaign (both xenophobic and anti-semitic) and the ...


Paul Barker: Bellamy’s Dream, 19 May 1988

... of socialism. Julian West’s journey into the future had momentous practical consequences. Mikhail Gorbachev is currently struggling with some of them. So are Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley, in their attempt to shift the British Labour Party towards ‘market socialism’. Directly or indirectly, Bellamy created in socialist imaginations the real ...

You, You, You, You, You, You, and Mom

Curtis Sittenfeld: Sean Wilsey’s memoir, 1 December 2005

Oh the Glory of It All 
by Sean Wilsey.
Viking, 482 pp., £14.99, September 2005, 0 670 91601 3
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... of Peace’, Pat and the children write letters, sing songs and drop in on Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Indira Gandhi. If anything, Pat gets more ridiculous – she starts talking in an earnest new voice, gives ‘a Dior nightgown to a starving child in an Ethiopian famine camp’, and decides she deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize ...


Misha Glenny, 9 May 1996

Black Sea 
by Neal Ascherson.
Cape, 306 pp., £17.99, July 1995, 0 224 04102 9
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... had taken power in Moscow. Ascherson immediately understood that he had witnessed the arrest of Mikhail Gorbachev, who was spending his summer vacation in his Crimean dacha. Back in Moscow, he followed the heroic defence of the White House by Yeltsin’s supporters and the consequent defeat of the coup. This is not a history of the Black Sea, as ...

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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... an epilogue dealing with Soviet leaders up to and including his present employer’s arch-rival, Mikhail Gorbachev. There are some good anecdotes, but the claim that the numerous references to Lenin they contain indicate his lasting influence on his successors is highly dubious. It is curious that a former propagandist should take their formal ...

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