Russian history and culture, from a historian in Cambridge

The Russia Anxiety: UK paperback out now

The UK paperback of The Russia Anxiety, published by Penguin, comes out this week. ‘A brilliant dissection of western prejudices about the Russians… This exciting and provocative book blows apart … Continue reading

July 27, 2020

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

The Panama Papers: Soviet history lessons?

Are you any the wiser, or did you know it already? The massive leak of documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca reveals — pause — that David Cameron inherited … Continue reading

April 17, 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

Is Vladimir Putin a conservative?

You learn to tell your right hand from your left when you’re little. It’s a lesson that British politics seems to have forgotten, as polling day approaches in the general election. … Continue reading

April 30, 2015 · Leave a comment

Stalin, the weak dictator? Or, where was Putin?

Between 1936 and 1938, the people of the Soviet Union were tortured by the Great Terror, the arrest and execution of almost seven hundred thousand innocent people on invented charges. One of the … Continue reading

March 16, 2015 · Leave a comment

Blair and Putin go to the pub, secure world peace

‘We have a joke in Russia — that when Russian men get together at work they talk about ladies,’ said Vladimir Putin after a session in the pub with Tony Blair … Continue reading

January 16, 2015 · Leave a comment

When is Russian New Year not New Year?

Little Blue Flame was a hugely popular variety show on Soviet television. Its New Year special was an extravaganza that featured all kinds of stars. But the countdown to midnight … Continue reading

January 1, 2015 · Leave a comment

The historical origins of Vladimir Putin (2)

‘I have approximately two sons,’ the late Viktor Chernomyrdin (who was Boris Yeltsin’s prime minister for much of the 1990s) is alleged once to have said. In another moment of … Continue reading

November 13, 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