Beyond the Kremlin

Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

Author Archives: beyondthekremlin

Are historians really losers?

Soviet history presents us with some of the most extraordinary events, places and people in all of the twentieth century. And yet in the classes I teach, we spend hours … Continue reading

February 3, 2019 · 2 Comments

The 9th Microdistrict: Moscow’s future

In 1956, they started to build a new future in Moscow out of both words and bricks. This was the year that Khrushchev gave the Secret Speech. He condemned the … Continue reading

January 27, 2019 · Leave a comment

Waiting for dawn

Tibor Szamuely sounded like a pessimist, and with good reason. Years after his release from the Gulag, he wrote a compelling book, The Russian Tradition, whose central argument is that … Continue reading

October 21, 2018 · Leave a comment

Penelope Fitzgerald’s Russia: past, patience, future

Penelope Fitzgerald’s historical novels are famous for their authenticity. In The Beginning of Spring (1988), set in Moscow in 1913, she describes rooms, trams, factories, shop signs and streets until … Continue reading

September 2, 2018 · Leave a comment

The World Cup, a month on

Only a month on, what can a historian add? First of all the usual pleasantries. My household was completely hooked. It was a spectacularly successful event, generating excitement and enthusiasm, … Continue reading

August 22, 2018 · Leave a comment

James Bond’s Russia question

James Bond is faced with a unique Russia question in Ian Fleming’s fifth 007 novel, From Russia With Love, published in 1957. Does Tatyana Romanova really want to defect from … Continue reading

August 18, 2018 · Leave a comment

The analogy misleader

You don’t have to watch US cable news for very long before somebody asks about history and Trump. Can you find a comparison? A precedent? Or is Donald Trump so … Continue reading

August 2, 2018 · Leave a comment