Russia past and present, from a historian in Cambridge

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

Denis Healey (1917-2015): clever critic of Soviet life

Denis Healey, who died last Saturday, was a twin of the Russian Revolution. Unlike many of his peers, he got the Soviet Union right. Born in 1917, he was a … Continue reading

October 11, 2015 · 2 Comments

The Philadelphia ghetto, the CIA, and the Soviet city

It’s not a very constructive argument. The neighbours scream that your new fence encroaches on their garden; you shout that their extension bears a doubtful relationship to the building regulations. … Continue reading

December 14, 2014 · Leave a comment

Why today’s diplomats should read about the Cultural Cold War

Know your enemy. So inveighed Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia, in a mid-1970s warning to American policymakers about the dangers of détente. This was how he put it: … Continue reading

November 18, 2014 · Leave a comment

Vladimir Putin meets Neville Chamberlain?

For some people, Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler are never far away. ‘We run the risk of repeating the mistakes made in Munich in 1938,’ David Cameron apparently said (of Ukraine) … Continue reading

September 22, 2014 · Leave a comment

Doctor Zhivago fights the Cold War

I first read the novel that won Boris Pasternak the Nobel Prize — Doctor Zhivago — during an undergraduate summer. Together with David Lean’s film, it opened a picture window onto the … Continue reading

August 17, 2014 · Leave a comment

The Cold War surveillance state — and AJP Taylor

Just how different was the post-Stalin Soviet Union from the Western democracies? Nowadays, historians ask the question in a routine way, focusing on the principles underlyng the consumer economy or … Continue reading

July 13, 2014 · Leave a comment