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The Project

Robert Conquest, 22 December 1994

Stalin and the Bomb 
by David Holloway.
Yale, 464 pp., £19.95, September 1994, 0 300 06056 4
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... comparative weakness on this side of the question can also be seen in his brief comments on Robert Oppenheimer. Here, however, he does not use the available primary documents; the known and admitted facts of the Oppenheimer-Eltenton affair are much more complex, and far more damaging to Oppenheimer’s credibility than Holloway allows. This aspect of ...

People and Martians

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 24 January 2019

The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 576 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 568 8
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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 412 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 567 1
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... bloody good show, too. A lot of people weren’t Cold Warriors – and so much the worse for them.Robert Conquest, quoted by Jay Nordlinger in National Review, 9 December 2002There are rules​ for writing about the enemy in wartime. You must never forget that your side and his are at war, and that your side is right and his is wrong. Your writing must ...

Argonauts

Donald Davie, 15 July 1982

... for Robert Conquest Exotic stimulations! Our passions pulled so loose From anything we might Share with our congeners, Why should we not refuse Their craven fabrications? Conquest (what a name for The emulous and mettled!), How can you think the score Settled by mere good humour? Confess a covert wish for The Orphic, the unfettered ...
We and They, Civic and Despotic Cultures 
by Robert Conquest.
Temple Smith, 252 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 85117 184 2
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The Recovery of Freedom 
by Paul Johnson.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 631 12562 0
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... and vigorous articles, which would otherwise have remained buried in journals and newspapers. Mr Conquest and Mr Johnson belonged in their day to the Left. Mr Johnson edited the New Statesman, and Mr Conquest has not always been a Conservative. Both have swung far away from their earlier beliefs, with something of the ...

To Kill All Day

Frank Kermode: Amis’s Terrible News, 17 October 2002

Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 306 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 224 06303 0
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... aposiopesis may be allowed as a structural feature, as when Yeats ends his ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’ by claiming that he cannot continue his roll call of Gregory’s friends because ‘a thought/Of that late death took all my heart for speech.’ We may grant Yeats command of that trick and also say that to confront horror with irony calls for ...

Starving the Ukraine

J. Arch Getty, 22 January 1987

The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Hutchinson, 347 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 09 163750 3
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... and, in some places, famine. Millions of people died from starvation, deportation and violence. Robert Conquest, author of The Great Terror and many other works on the Soviet Union, provides an account of these events. He begins with an informative four-chapter survey of the peasant problem and of Bolshevik attempts to solve it before 1928. Part ...

Advice for the New Nineties

Julian Symons, 12 March 1992

HMS Glasshouse 
by Sean O’Brien.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, November 1991, 0 19 282835 5
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The Hogweed Lass 
by Alan Dixon.
Poet and Printer, 33 pp., £3, September 1991, 0 900597 39 9
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Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £18.95, November 1991, 0 85635 923 8
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... George Barker and Edith Sitwell. Less than a decade later, with those roses seen as over-blown, Robert Conquest was deploring ‘the omission of the necessary intellectual component from poetry’, gathering several disparate writers under one umbrella, and announcing the striking out of New Lines. The Movement was succeeded by the Group (now what was ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... the 1950s, edited by D.J. Enright, appeared in 1955, followed a year later by New Lines, edited by Robert Conquest. Enright’s volume contained work by eight poets: Robert Conquest, D.J. Enright, Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie, John Holloway, Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Larkin and John Wain, to which list ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was simple (I think it had evolved from a once-famous letter to the Times ...

Enormities

C.H. Sisson, 27 September 1990

Collected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 475 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 85635 875 4
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... label round his neck now. Even in its time it contributed more to publicity than to enlightenment. Robert Conquest, as editor of the group’s anthology New Lines (1956), claimed that what the members had in common was a ‘negative determination to avoid bad principles’. What bad principles? It fell to Davie to define as well as to denounce these ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... anyone wants to remember this now – George W. Bush inheriting the mantle of Winston Churchill. Robert Conquest, presenting a relatively sophisticated, unmilitaristic and tolerant version of the Anglosphere (it included Nigeria and India) in Reflections on a Ravaged Century contrasted ‘the European political tradition’ with what he called the ...

Molehunt

Christopher Andrew, 22 January 1987

Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... both Philby and Burgess, was recalled to Moscow and shot. During the three-year period covered by Robert Conquest in Inside Stalin’s Secret Police the NKVD leadership was twice liquidated. Nikolai Yezhov, who succeeded G.G. Yagoda as head of the NKVD in September 1936, purged most of Yagoda’s men in the spring of 1937 (though Yagoda himself was not ...

Schools of History

Walter Laqueur, 26 September 1991

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives 
by Alan Bullock.
HarperCollins, 1187 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 00 215494 3
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Stalin: Breaker of Nations 
by Robert Conquest.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 0 297 81194 0
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... re-examined the evidence that has appeared since then and incorporated the important new material. Robert Conquest’s books – especially The Great Terror and Harvest of Sorrow, his work on the collectivisation of agriculture – did not receive the universal acclaim which came the way of Bullock’s Hitler. Even those who thought Hitler relatively ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis, 1 June 2000

The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... more to be enjoyed than a complicated anyone. For Amis, it became easier to trade limericks with Robert Conquest than to keep up the old banter with a Larkin who, in later years, he rarely saw. The Amis/Larkin correspondence is what makes this book a document worth having and one wishes that perhaps one day these letters might be published as a separate ...

‘No Bullshit’ Bullshit

Stefan Collini: Christopher Hitchens, Englishman, 23 January 2003

Orwell's Victory 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Allen Lane, 150 pp., £9.99, June 2002, 9780713995848
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... things in themselves, but in this case curious and curiously revealing. The dedication is to Robert Conquest, ‘premature anti-fascist, premature anti-Stalinist, poet and mentor, and founder of “the united front against bullshit”’. It seems that Conquest is being saluted here principally for having been ...

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