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.

Stronger Than the Gulag

Although more than three decades have passed since the winter of 1974, when unbound, hand-typed samizdat versions of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” began circulating in what used to be the Soviet Union, the emotions they stirred remain today.

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.

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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Justice in Baghdad

“We are able to do away with domestic tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of their own people only when we make all men answerable to the law.” — Justice Robert Jackson, in his opening statement for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials in 1945.

A Truly Russian Icon

For far too long, the history of 20th century Russia has been understood almost exclusively through the prism of politics, as if it were about nothing more than Marxism and Leninism, revolution and totalitarianism, war and famine.

Defending the Marxist citadel

In the last several years, English-speaking readers have been treated to a plethora of Soviet history books unlike others before them. The opening of Soviet archives has given us everything from Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad to Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s book on Stalin’s court, to new biographies of Rasputin, Lenin and Trotsky. Now, however, we have The Soviet …

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