Russia’s Usable Past

Russia’s Usable Past

Jonathan Brent arrived in Moscow, in the winter of 1992, bearing gifts: salami, biscuits, chocolates in the shape of the Statue of Liberty, bottles of Jack Daniels, stacks of $1 bills, cartons of Winston cigarettes.

The Spectre of Spielberg

The Spectre of Spielberg

Which would you rather read, The Great Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s day-by-day account of the whisky he drank and the cigarettes he smoked while writing it? La Comédie humaine or a list of the cups of coffee Balzac downed, between midnight and sunrise, while putting all of those words down on paper?

Planting Ideology

Planting Ideology

Concentration camps, mass murders, wars, starvation: The history of the Soviet Union is not short of large-scale tragedies and crimes. But in cataloguing these events or counting up the dead, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the Bolshevik Revolution left more than physical damage in its wake:

The Blog of War

The Blog of War

I. “The ideal Gawker item,” Nick Denton, the owner of Gawker Media, wrote in an instant message, “is something triggered by a quote at a party, or an incident, or a story somewhere else and serves to expose hypocrisy, or turn conventional wisdom on its head. “And it’s 100 words long. “200 max.

The Mystery of Condi Rice: Where did she learn how to play the game?

The Mystery of Condi Rice: Where did she learn how to play the game?

Way back when George W. Bush was still a candidate and “Condi” was not yet an internationally recognized nickname, someone who had observed the present secretary of state in a previous incarnation told me to watch her carefully. “Everyone underestimates her, because they think she’s a token. Condi’s not a token. Condi plays the game …

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Memory speaks volumes

Memory speaks volumes

It’s a dangerous business, oral history, at least when you try it in Russia. Without oral history a complete history of the Soviet Union is almost impossible to write. Archival documents are dry, containing only the official point of view; memoirs, often written years later, are unreliable and frequently slide over important details.

How Life Imitates Chess

How Life Imitates Chess

If I were a leading venture capitalist, the CEO of a large company, or in any case a person in search of ways to win friends and influence people, then I would be in a much better position to judge the utility of How Life Imitates Chess, Garry Kasparov’s bid to convince business executives that …

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What really destroyed the Hungarians in 1956?

What really destroyed the Hungarians in 1956?

Of all the great events of the Cold War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 is probably the one most in need of serious historical attention. In part this is because new archives have at last explained a number of mysteries: did Imre Nagy, the reforming communist and later national hero, really request Soviet ‘assistance’ in …

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