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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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... letters to Molotov are handwritten. Most were written during the two months or so in each year when Stalin was on vacation in the South and conveyed by the courier service of the OGPU to Molotov in Moscow. Molotov’s replies are rarely available. The letters are informal in style; on occasion Stalin sends greetings to Molotov’s wife (whom he later ...

What is progress?

William Doyle

6 March 1986
What is history? 
by E.H. Carr, edited by R.W. Davies.
Macmillan, 154 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 38956 5
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... that already Carr’s name is chiefly known among students of history for the shortest book he ever wrote. What is history? made its controversial appearance in 1961. I was an undergraduate, and I remember how we all bought and devoured it. The extraordinary thing is that students have continued to do so ever since. It is a remarkable achievement for a book ...

Yeltsin has gone mad

R.W. Davies: Boris Yeltsin and Medvedev

9 August 2001
Midnight Diaries 
by Boris Yeltsin, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Phoenix, 409 pp., £8.99, April 2001, 0 7538 1134 0
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Post-Soviet Russia: A Journey through the Yeltsin Era 
by Roy Medvedev, translated by George Shriver.
Columbia, 394 pp., £24, November 2000, 0 231 10606 8
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Zagadka Putina 
by Roy Medvedev.
Prava cheloveka, 93 pp., $8, March 2000, 9785771201269
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... the seven noble boyars took over the state from the Tsar in 1610, and were soon themselves thrown out by the invading Poles. The rule of the financial ‘oligarchs’, as they are now universally known, was not benevolent. Yeltsin acknowledges that their rise took place in a climate of ‘corruption and theft’. Huge amounts of Russian capital were ...
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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... the party leadership’ and eliminated more than a quarter of all senior mining officials. Nor was the Great Purge confined to the towns. Using the Smolensk archives, Roberta Manning concludes that in the Belyi agricultural district as many as 15 per cent of rural party members were expelled in the single year 1937, and many of these were arrested. The ...
9 November 1989
The Long Road to Freedom: Russia and Glasnost 
by Walter Laqueur.
Unwin Hyman, 325 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 04 440343 7
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Glasnost in Action: Cultural Renaissance in Russia 
by Alec Nove.
Unwin Hyman, 251 pp., £15, September 1989, 9780044453406
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Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution 
by R.W. Davies.
Macmillan, 232 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 49741 4
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Beyond Perestroika: The Future of Gorbachev’s USSR 
by Ernest Mandel, translated by Gus Fagan.
Verso, 214 pp., £34.95, May 1989, 9780860912231
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Perestroika in Perspective: The Design and Dilemmas of Soviet Reform 
by Padma Desai.
Tauris, 138 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 1 85043 141 8
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... the ‘directing and guiding force in Soviet society’. Demands for national independence, either within a genuinely federal Soviet Union or completely separate from it, flood into the Kremlin – from the Baltic republics, whose own Communist Parties now call for autonomy, from the unruly Caucasian republics, from the largest non-Russian republic, the ...

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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... that ran through his speech. He even spoke of the February Revolution of 1917, which saw the overthrow of Nicholas II and the installation of the Provisional Government, in terms which only briefly discussed the role played by the Bolsheviks. A fondness for the NEP is not new among professional historians in the Soviet Union. One, P.V. Volobuev, re-emerged ...
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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... machinery of a police state. The impact of the Great Purges on Western attitudes towards the USSR was immense; for many immediately, for others after Khrushchev’s revelations of Stalin’s crimes in 1956. Of all episodes in Soviet history, this probably influenced people’s view of the USSR more than any other. Yet there remain large gaps in our ...
6 April 1995
The Davies Report: The ‘Great Battle’ in Swansea 
by Michael Davies.
Thoemmes, 139 pp., £3.99, October 1994, 1 85506 366 2
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... Whatever may be said for and against suicide generally, the appeal of death is immeasurably greater when it is sought not for a poor reason or just any reason, but for good cause so to speak; when it is invoked not on behalf of a socially useful person, but on behalf of, for example, the pain-racked hopelessly incurable cancer victim. The second is a passage ...
6 December 2012
... visited there were only a few elderly residents left. Ten years later, in 2008, a Russian TV crew found all five settlements empty and the railway line overgrown with weeds. In the few wooden barracks still standing, photographs, papers and odd items of clothing lay scattered, as if the inhabitants had been rushed out ...

Grim Eminence

Norman Stone

10 January 1983
The Twilight of the Comintern 1930-1935 
by E.H. Carr.
Macmillan, 436 pp., £25, December 1982, 0 333 33062 5
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... he had died ten years before, his death would probably have been noticed a great deal more, for Carr was an eminent left-wing historian, had a huge record of publication, and had embarked, 35 years before his death, on a History of Soviet Russia which has been described as ‘monumental’ and ‘a classic’. By the time he died, the 15th separate book of ...

What news?

Patrick Collinson: The Pilgrimage of Grace

1 November 2001
The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s 
by R.W. Hoyle.
Oxford, 487 pp., £30, May 2001, 9780198208747
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... Columns of smoke rose above the English countryside. At one point the nation’s leader was tempted to take personal charge of the management of the crisis. But when the Lincolnshire problem proved to be shortlived, he unwisely wound the preventative operation down, persuading himself that the crisis was under control, even over. But at that very ...

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