BEYOND THE KREMLIN

Russian history and culture, from a historian in Cambridge

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

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 · 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

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

The Kaiser, the Tsar, and the President: an election day post

What happens when policymakers disagree about Russia? It’s surely a good thing — even if it doesn’t always head off disaster. Take newly unified Germany in the decades before 1914. … Continue reading

November 8, 2016 · Leave a comment

‘Our adversary’: Hillary, Trump, Russia

‘Our adversary.’ This is how Hillary Clinton described Russia in the second presidential debate on Sunday night. So routine has distrust and recrimination between the two countries become that nobody … Continue reading

October 14, 2016 · Leave a comment

The Nazi-Soviet pact: a moral problem

‘Historians often dislike what happened or wish that it had happened differently,’ wrote AJP Taylor, the great British historian-provocateur of the last century. He concluded: ‘There is nothing they can … Continue reading

January 19, 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