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Going West

John Barber, 24 November 1988

The Gorbachev Phenomenon: A Historical Interpretation 
by Moshe Lewin.
Radius, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 09 173202 6
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The Thinking Reed: Intellectuals and the Soviet State from 1917 to the Present 
by Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Brian Pearce.
Verso, 374 pp., £17.95, July 1988, 0 86091 198 5
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Eastern Europe, Gorbachev and Reform: The Great Challenge 
by Karen Dawisha.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £22.50, June 1988, 0 521 35560 5
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... interpenetration of political and economic, social and cultural forces, has long been the basis of Moshe Lewin’s great reputation as an historian of the Soviet Union. Here he brings this talent to bear powerfully on the analysis of contemporary Soviet society. In the process, the stereotypes of an immutable system and static society, faithfully ...

Stalin’s Purges

John Barber, 17 October 1985

Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered 1933-1938 
by J. Arch Getty.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 521 25921 5
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The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia 
by Moshe Lewin.
Methuen, 354 pp., £19, June 1985, 0 416 40820 6
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... Soviet Union in the Thirties have resulted. Historians such as R.W. Davies, Sheila Fitzpatrick and Moshe Lewin have in different ways substantially revised the conventional picture of the period. Instead of a monolithic regime systematically implementing its strategy for constructing a totalitarian system, their research shows both state and society ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: A Leninist version of Soviet history, 1 September 2005

The Soviet Century 
by Moshe Lewin, edited by Gregory Elliott.
Verso, 416 pp., £25, February 2005, 1 84467 016 3
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... too, including Leninist conspiracy, though their politics were usually strongly anti-Communist. Moshe Lewin’s politics are different, and fate never landed him in Australia. Yet he has something in common with these figures from my youth, starting with a kind of gnomic (in both senses) charisma, an exotic life story, a first-hand view of Soviet ...

‘Life has been reborn’

Karl Schlögel: Writing Diaries under Stalin, 16 August 2007

Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin 
by Jochen Hellbeck.
Harvard, 436 pp., £19.95, May 2007, 978 0 674 02174 7
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... the semi-public space of the Ringstrassen-Café or the Parisian salon. The permanent flux in what Moshe Lewin has called a ‘wind sand society’ – one of crowded communal apartments with dozens of inhabitants, endless queues outside department stores or NKVD offices, an atmosphere of omnipresent fear and suspicion – meant that the formation of ...

Against Relics

Tony Wood: The Soviet Century, 13 July 2023

The Soviet Century: Archaeology of a Lost World 
by Karl Schlögel, translated by Rodney Livingstone.
Princeton, 906 pp., £35, March, 978 0 691 18374 9
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... were far-reaching, making the Stalin-era USSR an especially turbulent place – what the historian Moshe Lewin called a ‘quicksand society’. Modernisation was achieved at a tremendous human cost, with gruelling constraints imposed on the bulk of the population, even as it opened up new horizons.The Gulag intrudes throughout The Soviet Century. Even ...

Days of Reckoning

Orlando Figes, 7 July 1988

Stalin: Man and Ruler 
by Robert McNeal.
Macmillan, 389 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 333 37351 0
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... The revisionists (Sheila Fitzpatrick and J. Arch Getty are perhaps the best known, although Moshe Lewin pioneered the social history of Soviet Russia in the interwar period) have questioned how far Stalin was able, in practice, to exercise such autocratic powers. Fitzpatrick (unknown to McNeal) has depicted a Communist Party responding to changing ...

The Unlucky Skeleton

Greg Afinogenov: Russian Magic Tales, 12 September 2013

Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov 
edited by Robert Chandler.
Penguin, 466 pp., £9.99, December 2012, 978 0 14 144223 5
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Red Spectres: Russian 20th-Century Gothic-Fantastic Tales 
translated by Muireann Maguire.
Angel Classics, 223 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 0 946162 80 2
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Stalin’s Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature 
by Muireann Maguire.
Peter Lang, 342 pp., £48.53, November 2012, 978 3 0343 0787 1
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... growth of scientific culture, but also of the collapse of everything familiar. As the historian Moshe Lewin wrote, the USSR of the 1920s and 1930s was a ‘quicksand society’, in which every institution and social stratum was unstable. Just as in later decades, pursued by war and repression, Bazhov and Platonov would use folklore to reflect on ...

Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... of the doyens of ‘totalitarianism’, to modify his earlier certainties. Then in the Seventies, Moshe Lewin’s work on Russian peasants and Soviet society and Stephen Cohen’s outstanding biography of Bukharin presented a Soviet society in flux, and a Communist policy which was not fixed in one mould but contained competing trends within itself. For ...

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