BEYOND THE KREMLIN

Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

The rule of law and workable paradoxes

Balding, but with a fantastical beard, Sergei Zarudnyi was one of the leading Russian lawyers of the nineteenth century, though he was a mathematics graduate with a taste for literature. … Continue reading

November 28, 2019

Scarecrow / historian

At the weekend, I watched The Scarecrow — Rolan Bykov’s landmark film of 1983 — for the second time. The first time was fifteen years ago in the library of … Continue reading

November 11, 2019

Books and Terror

Does reading books make you a better person? Students beginning university this week might wonder if learning brings wisdom, kindness or resilience. Faced with an ungenerous teacher in his book-stacked … Continue reading

October 1, 2019

Old enemies and absent friends

On holiday, keen to avoid anything to do with my day job, I came across a copy of The President is Missing, a thriller authored by Bill Clinton and James … Continue reading

September 8, 2019

When everyone agrees about D-Day

‘D-Day holds a special place in our nation’s story,’ writes the BBC’s James Lansdale, reflecting on the 75th anniversary commemorations on Thursday. But what’s the place, and what’s the story? … Continue reading

June 11, 2019

Against laziness

Mark Galeotti’s highly recommended We Need to Talk About Putin (Penguin / Ebury, 2019) is a wonderfully compressed book that punctures our lazy preconceptions about Russia. Robust, reasonable and addictive, … Continue reading

June 8, 2019

History on fire, from Notre Dame to Napoleon

Why do we cry when old buildings burn down? On Monday evening, life stopped for many people while the Cathedral of Notre Dame was on fire. Why does the fate … Continue reading

April 18, 2019 · Leave a comment