Beyond the Kremlin

Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

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

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

America meets Russia in the Urals

Even during the height of the Cold War, it was for a time fashionable to say that no two peoples were more similar than Americans and Russians. Some of the … Continue reading

July 31, 2017 · Leave a comment

John le Carré, Russianist?

Russia runs like a red thread through the novels of John le Carré. Often it’s there as a proxy — the secret police chief, the guards outside the embassy, or … Continue reading

December 25, 2016 · Leave a comment

Bruce Chatwin: through the Iron Curtain

How iron was the Iron Curtain? Every ‘through the curtain’ experience tells us something about the division of Europe during the Cold War. It adds evidence to any view of … Continue reading

August 5, 2016 · Leave a comment

Stalin and Hiroshima

In Hiroshima today, President Obama avoided a politically toxic and morally doubtful apology for the atomic bombing of Japan. Instead he faced up to the dangers of war. ‘We have … Continue reading

May 28, 2016 · Leave a comment

The Trump-Putin axis

One brilliant publicist salutes another. President Putin declares that presidential candidate Donald Trump is ‘a very bright and talented man’. Nodding at the conventions of international non-endorsement, he adds an … Continue reading

December 23, 2015 · Leave a comment