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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
21 August 1980
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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids

21 March 2013
... his 2006 book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, the British historian Andrew Roberts writes: ‘Just as in science fiction people are able to live on through cryogenic freezing after their bodies die, so British post-imperial greatness has been preserved and fostered through its incorporation into the American world-historical ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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