How Hitler Could Have Won

  • The Greatest Battle
    by Andrew Nagorski, Simon and Schuster, 366 pp.
  • Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War
    by Rodric Braithwaite, Knopf, 398 pp

Hitler invaded the Soviet Union at 0400 hours on June 22, 1941. By June 23, the Wehrmacht had destroyed the entire Soviet air force. By June 26, the Soviet commander of the Western front had lost radio contact with Moscow. By June 28, German troops had entered Minsk, the capital of Soviet Belarus. And on the morning of June 29—just a week into the invasion—Stalin failed to appear in the Kremlin. Continue reading “How Hitler Could Have Won”

Memory speaks volumes

  • The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
    by Orlando Figes Allen Lane, 784pp.

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. Continue reading “Memory speaks volumes”

Ade, neues Europa: Amerikas Diplomatie hat die Chance verpasst, einen geeinten Kontinent für sich zu gewinnen

Es war ein sonniger Tag im Juni und George W. Bush hielt an der Universität von Warschau eine Rede. Drinnen lauschten die Politiker interessiert und wisperten zustimmend miteinander. Draußen hatte sich eine jubelnde Menschenmenge versammelt, die Plakate mit Sympathiebekundungen für Amerika hochhielt. Continue reading “Ade, neues Europa: Amerikas Diplomatie hat die Chance verpasst, einen geeinten Kontinent für sich zu gewinnen”

Extraordinary champion of ordinary people

A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, by Anna Politkovskaya, University of Chicago Press, 224pp.

Some years ago, I went to visit the offices of a small Moscow newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.   Novaya Gazeta has always led a precarious existence — it is one of the few publications that has consistently opposed the Kremlin — and that day the editor was particularly distracted. Continue reading “Extraordinary champion of ordinary people”

How Life Imitates Chess

  • From chessboard to boardroom,
    by Gary Kasparov, Heinemann, 262pp.

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 there is much to be learned from studying the game of chess. Continue reading “How Life Imitates Chess”