BEYOND THE KREMLIN

Russian history and culture, from a historian in Cambridge

Coronavirus: a history of now?

Can history make sense of Covid-19? Some answers to this question come from a podcast hosted by the Faculty of History here at Cambridge. I hope you’ve caught it; you … Continue reading

May 31, 2020

Coronavirus and mental health: reading Oblomov

Coronavirus is a mental health disaster zone. Some people fear a shortened life. Others have lost trust in the future. Many have uneasy feelings about people and places currently closed … Continue reading

April 14, 2020

Coronavirus: histories of emergency powers

As the proverb goes: it’s pointless to complain about losing your hair when they’re about to cut off your head. Across the world, coronavirus, not its longer-term impact, is the … Continue reading

April 3, 2020

Coronavirus, Russia and the world: can history help?

Russia has suffered its share of epidemics in the last century or so. As we face the global uncertainty of coronavirus, does knowledge of this history help us? Take three … Continue reading

March 29, 2020

Lewis Siegelbaum and the consolations of history

From time to time, many of us sense that our ancestors can guide and protect us. Such a feeling is a comfort. But can you read their messages? Historians console … Continue reading

February 15, 2020

Exiting the EU on Siegfried Sassoon’s time machine

Until today, Britain has been a member of the European Union for almost 47 years. Only people in their mid-fifties can have accurate memories of British life before accession to … Continue reading

January 31, 2020

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