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Stephen​ Holmes: Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia by Stephen Cohen

19 April 2001
Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia 
by Stephen Cohen.
Norton, 305 pp., £15.95, November 2000, 0 393 04964 7
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... to ‘promote American values’ in Russia over the past decade. Condoleezza Rice and other members of President Bush’s foreign policy team have even begun echoing those leftist critics, such as StephenCohen, who miss no opportunity to denounce ‘the disastrous failure of US policy towards post-Communist Russia’. Best known for his 1973 study of Bukharin, Cohen is presumably well prepared to ...

After Lahore

Tariq Ali: It’s not just cricket

26 March 2009
... of its failure to have an exit strategy from Afghanistan. On 25 February Richard Holbrooke showed up at a Brookings Institution event optimistically titled ‘Pakistan: Dream Deferred or Denied?’ StephenCohen, an expert on the Pakistan military and a senior fellow at the institution, painted a grim picture of the situation in Pakistan. The country, he said, was unravelling at a rapid pace and the US ...
19 December 1985
by Viktor Suvorov, translated by David Floyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 249 pp., £10.95, June 1985, 0 241 11545 0
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Breaking with Moscow 
by Arkady Shevchenko.
Cape, 278 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 224 02804 9
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Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History since 1917 
by Stephen Cohen.
Oxford, 222 pp., £15, May 1985, 0 19 503468 6
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Rise and Fall 
by Milovan Djilas.
Macmillan, 424 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 333 39791 6
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Tito’s Flawed Legacy: Yugoslavia and the West 1939-1984 
by Nora Beloff.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 575 03668 0
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... Michael Voslensky’s Nomenklatura (1984). This shows how the privileged – by rank and, increasingly, by birth – are sealed off from the many intractable problems of everyday Soviet life, which, StephenCohen maintains in his interesting volume of essays, put one in mind of a Third World state rather than a modern super-power. ‘My father lives in the skies,’ Gromyko’s daughter once told ...

I was warmer in prison

Vadim Nikitin: ‘A Terrible Country’

11 October 2018
A Terrible Country 
by Keith Gessen.
Fitzcarraldo, 352 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 910695 76 0
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... fact that this remains a refreshing – even shocking – perspective testifies to the depressing state of most American scholarship and reporting on Russia. With a few exceptions – such as NYU’s StephenCohen and Pittsburgh’s Sean Guillory – even simple self-criticism is almost entirely absent from US Slavic Studies departments. Politically, nearly all the major scholarship of the past half ...

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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... phenomena’. Perhaps a balance needs to be struck between the pessimism about the NEP typical of the late E.H. Carr and the warmth for it expressed by historian-reformers in the Soviet Union and by StephenCohen in the USA. The merit of Reiman’s book lies elsewhere. E.H. Carr, whatever one thinks of his general analysis (and readers of this journal will be aware that his heritage is contentious ...


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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... for example, combined denunciation of the evils of Stalinism with endorsement of the ‘Leninist norms’ of an earlier era) as well as appealing to young American ‘revisionist’ scholars like StephenCohen, who wanted to decouple Leninism and Stalinism in order to rescue the former from the stigma of ‘totalitarianism’. Lewin’s next book, dauntingly entitled Political Undercurrents in Soviet ...

Somewhat Divine

Simon Schaffer: Isaac Newton

16 November 2000
Isaac Newton: The ‘Principia’ Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
translated by I. Bernard Cohen.
California, 974 pp., £22, September 1999, 0 520 08817 4
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... even managed to bring out an English translation of the whole of his greatest work. There has never, until now, been another. It has understandably taken the Harvard historian of science I. Bernard Cohen and his collaborators much longer to produce this new translation than Newton took to compose the original, or Motte his version. In 1956, when Cohen had already established his reputation as a ...

Forget the Klingons

James Hamilton-Paterson: Is there anybody out there?

6 March 2003
Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life 
by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart.
Ebury, 369 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 187927 2
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XTL: Extraterrestrial Life and How to Find It 
by Simon Goodwin and John Gribbin.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £12.99, August 2002, 1 84188 193 7
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... mind life-forms quite unlike terran creatures, with properly alien chemistries and biologies to match. Most formative thinking about the genuinely alien has been done by science fiction writers, and Cohen and Stewart provide their own short SF story about how an unknown creature might perceive a Nasa probe sent in the near future to Europa, a satellite of Jupiter. (There are great hopes that life ...
25 July 1991
Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... an attempt to evoke Berlin’s presence by reminiscence and by continuing those conversations on many subject which have been part of their friendships with him. Of the 14 essays and one poem (by Stephen Spender) three have previously been published. Alfred Brendel writes about humour in music, Francis Haskell on controversies about the transition from Late Roman to Early Christian art; Bernard ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine

3 December 1981
The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Mr Stephen is editing a little dictionary,’ a friend explained to a clergyman foolhardy enough to ask whether Leslie ‘did any writing’. The enterprise in question was the DNB, one of those grandiosely ...

Which Face?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Emigrés on the Make

27 January 2020
Cold War Exiles and the CIA: Plotting to Free Russia 
by Benjamin Tromly.
Oxford, 329 pp., £75, September 2019, 978 0 19 884040 4
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The Dissidents: A Memoir of Working with the Resistance in Russia, 1960-90 
by Peter Reddaway.
Brookings, 337 pp., £25.50, February, 978 0 8157 3773 5
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... a chain system involving well-wishers with their own lists of regular recipients: Martin Dewhirst passed on samizdat documents from Reddaway to the NTS’s publishing house in Frankfurt, while StephenCohen of Princeton, persona non grata with the Soviets because his research topic was the Bolshevik Oppositionist Nikolai Bukharin, passed materials on to Valery Chalidze, who helped found the Moscow ...
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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... level – occurred between the population censuses of 1926 and 1939, most of them during the calamitous famine of 1932-3. The estimates made as long ago as 1946 by Lorimer, and in the Seventies by Stephen Wheatcroft and myself, proved to be too low, but many estimates by Western historians were too high. The present state of our knowledge about these grim consequences of Stalinism is succinctly ...

Brandenburg’s Dream

Derek Walmsley: Digital Piracy

7 January 2016
How Music Got Free 
by Stephen​ Witt.
Bodley Head, 280 pp., £20, June 2015, 978 1 84792 282 3
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... low, a buckle has practical benefits too. In the 2000s, when the ‘Dirty South’ replaced New York as the heartland of hiphop, belt buckles were used for bragging and branding. Everyone wore them, Stephen Witt writes in How Music Got Free, at the CD pressing plant in North Carolina that handled heavyweight hiphop labels such as Def Jam, Interscope and Death Row. ‘The white guys wore big oval ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford

1 June 2000
Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... attention, emphatic but never petulant, from the performance writers make of their art. A chapter which begins momentously with Joseph Conrad, and develops into a meticulous and heartfelt tribute to Stephen Crane, concludes by recommending an old leather portmanteau as the best possible manure for fig trees. Mrs Gwendolen Bishop no doubt astonished Holland Park Avenue with the splendour of her costume ...
20 November 1980
Joyce’s Politics 
by Dominic Manganiello.
Routledge, 260 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 7100 0537 7
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... poem than Willy Yeats had written by that time, and that Eliot considered that it brought a new rhythm into English verse. Who can ever forget their first throat-gulping reaction to the scene where Stephen at last decides to reject the disciplines of church and state for the free life of the artist? Young Dedalus, who has, under the temptation to become a priest, been mortifying his flesh for a long ...

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