Hero

Since becoming president of Russia, Vladimir Putin has worked hard to mold Russian memories of the Soviet Union into something more positive, or anyway more nostalgic, than they had been under his predecessor. His goal, it seems, is to make Russians proud of their country again, to find heroes they can once again worship.

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.

The day of the underdog

To a British reader who knows the subject, 1776 may seem pretty thin. To one who doesn’t, it may be confusing. It is an account of the military history of a single year of the American revolution, so the ambitions of the author are oddly limited.

The bigger the worse

At the beginning of Russia’s Empires, Philip Longworth announces that his intention is to “examine the phoenix-like nature of Russian imperialism and to expand our understanding of it”. He points out that over the centuries, no less than four empires have risen and subsequently fallen on Russian soil, beginning with Kievan Rus in the Middle …

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In Search of Pro-Americanism

There has never been a more popular time to be anti-American. From Beijing to Berlin, from Sydney to São Paulo, America’s detractors have become legion. But not everyone has chosen to get on the anti-American bandwagon. Where–and among whom–is America still admired, and why? Meet the pro-Americans.

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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Album from Hell

Yellowed, dusty, covered in thick cardboard, and held together with string, the Gulag photo albums stored in the Russian State Archive look, at first glance, like nothing more than old family albums kept too long in the attic. But even when opened, their true function isn’t immediately clear.

The Aviator

To read the first page of this novel is to feel an odd and not altogether pleasant sensation of voyeurism. The scene is a house beside the railway tracks in central Russia, on the eve of the great battle of Stalingrad. A man and a woman are alone together, but they cannot quite shut out …

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