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Peaches from Our Tree

R.W. Davies, 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 important letters were published in Soviet journals ...

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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... Western historians have been struggling for decades to get into the archives of the Stalin period. In the early Eighties, before Gorbachev took office, we were granted very limited access, but were forbidden to see the finding aids and were segregated in a special foreigners’ reading-room. The real transformation came after the defeat of the August 1991 coup ...

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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... Yeltsin’s first volume of autobiography, Against the Grain (1990), showed how he emerged from obscurity as a defender of democracy and social justice. In March 1989, against the wishes of Gorbachev and the Party bosses, he was elected Mayor of Moscow with nearly 90 per cent of the vote. In his second volume, The View from the Kremlin (1994), Yeltsin described how in June 1991 he became the first elected President of Russia ...

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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... of the original, and the collaborator on two of the volumes of the History of Soviet Russia, R.W. Davies, has examined these and offered, in a 28-page introduction, notes towards a second edition. But would a second edition have introduced any substantial differences? On the evidence presented here one feels bound to doubt it. It is significant that the ...

Russians and the Russian Past

John Barber, 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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... of Soviet citizens became passionately involved in studying their country’s past’: so R.W. Davies begins his book on the re-examination of Soviet history. He does not exaggerate. Of the subjects illuminated by glasnost, history has been the most hotly and widely debated of all. Nor is this surprising: besides the intellectual and moral need to come to ...

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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... as a historical judgment is fiercely debated. The principal economic historian of the period, R.W. Davies, has written of the large capacity for economic development within the NEP’s parameters. In his view, the New Economic Policy was not just a strategy for recovery from the Great War and the Civil War: it also presented opportunities for further ...

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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... and social history of the 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 ...

Buying and Selling

Paul Foot, 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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... philosophy in Swansea since 1967, and Michael Cohen, a former Tory voter described by Sir Michael Davies as a ‘careful and reasonable sort of person’. In early 1990, all four lecturers, Hunt, Maclean, Williamson and Cohen, formally complained to the Academic Secretary of the University, Mr Jeffrey Pritchard, about standards at the Health Care Centre. Mr ...

Russia Vanishes

Tony Wood, 6 December 2012

... population, and each had demographic consequences that reach into the present. The historians R.W. Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft have put ‘excess deaths’ from the First World War, Revolution and Civil War – including those caused by disease and mass hunger – at 14.5 million. The effects on the Soviet population of political repression and the famine of ...

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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... with further inquiry. In Foundations, he was lucky to acquire the partnership of Professor R.W. Davies, of the Centre for Russian Studies at Birmingham, and who knows the Soviet economy very thoroughly.6 It was this partnership which saved Carr’s book from going to bits: Foundations has great strength in its discussion of the planning machine, of the ...

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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... in movements of this kind: precipitation, bonding and legitimation, functions emphasised by C.S.L. Davies and by S.M. Harrison in his account of the supposedly religionless rising in the Lake Counties. To restrict ‘religion’ in the 16th century to matters ‘spiritual’ and to ‘Catholic idealism’, even to exclude the preservation of monasteries as a ...

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