History in the making can be messy. As a tale told years later by historians, it is usually a clean narrative, with a beginning, a middle, and a mostly logical and foreordained end. Much of that messiness gets lost. Not in Jonathan Schneer’s new book, The Lockhart Plot: Love Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-Revolution in Lenin’s Russia (Oxford UP, 2020). Schneer’s recounts the story of a young British diplomat, Bruce Lockhart, sent to Soviet Russia soon after the October Revolution in 1917. Initially seeking some sort of accommodation with the Bolsheviks, Lockhart ends up plotting to overthrow the regime. The plot–set for …
History matters in Russia. It really matters, so much so that the state has a “historical policy” to help legitimize itself and support its policy agenda. In The Use of History in Putin’s Russia (Vernon Press, 2020), James C. Pearce examines how the past is perceived in contemporary Russia and analyses the ways in which the Russian state uses history to create a broad social consensus and forge a national identity. Listen to the NBN interview here.
In Dealing with the Russians (Polity, 2019), Andrew Monaghan argues that Western policy makers are using an outdated Cold War model of ideology, language and institutions, which is wholly unsuited for understanding, engaging, and countering where necessary Russia in the 21st century. One of England’s leading experts on Russia, Monaghan argues Western policy makers need to let go of the past Cold War rhetoric and come up with modern tools to manage the current stage of the three-century long “Russia and the West” policy conundrum. Listen to the New Books Network interview here.
I enjoyed being a guest on Al Zambone’s HistoricallyThinking podcast. Discussed making the transition from Russian history to investment management, dividend investing, and the main arguments in Getting Back to Business. https://historicallythinking.org/episode-146-the-historically-informed-investment-portfolio-or-the-historian-as-financial-analyst/
Bill Douglas needed money. He always needed money. And now, reeling from a very expensive divorce, and with a new wife, he needed even more money. Douglas had come from a modest upbringing, the son of an itinerant preacher who had ended up in the Pacific northwest. He worked his way through a local college—after getting the first year free on a scholarship—and then crossed the country to New York, where he worked his way through law school. Douglas advanced very quickly in the legal profession, but his expenses regularly outstripped his income. He borrowed. He did one-off writing jobs. …
Complex societies require rules. No rules, no complex societies. It’s that simple. Or is it? In the case of state-oriented societies, like late Tsarist Russia or the Soviet Union, a visible and important subset of those rules concern proper behavior towards and by government officials. The historical concentration of resources and power in the hands of the government created the nearly inevitable risk of people falling short of ideal impartiality or ideological rectitude. Hence the rules, particularly concerning the giving and taking of bribes by government officials. The challenge in Russia has been all the greater because for significant periods …
10 полузабытых деревянных аэропортов России, куда еще можно слетать
Just had a chance to catch up on the intersection of finance and the Bolshevik Revolution. Yes, there was an intersection, and it is ably documented in Hassan Malik’s new book. Catch the New Books Network interview here: https://tinyurl.com/y9cgscaa
Academic history can be, well, on the dry side. Fortunately, it does not have to be, as Tricia Starks, makes clear in her newly-published account, Smoking under the Tsars: A History of Tobacco in Imperial Russia (Cornell, 2018). The topic is naturally interesting (and controversial), but Stark’s account–part of a broader project on the history of Russia through the senses–makes the topic even more engaging. I understand that a follow up study of smoking culture during the Soviet period is in the works. I look forward to reading that as well.