BEYOND THE KREMLIN

Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

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

The Russia Anxiety — why Stalinism was so terrible

In my new book, The Russia Anxiety, I have a lot to say about Stalinism. My arguments steer down the middle of today’s historiography on the period, though a couple of … Continue reading

August 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

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