Stalin

How does today’s world compare with Orwell’s nightmare vision?

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Apart from a passionate relationship with the common toad, what do George Orwell and David Attenborough have in common? H.G.…

Vasily Grossman: eye-witness to the 20th century’s worst atrocities

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate (completed in 1960) has been hailed as a 20th-century War and Peace. It has…

Maneki-neko at the Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo. A common Japanese talisman thought to bring good luck to its owner, the ‘welcoming cat’ is often displayed in shops, restaurants and other businesses

What makes Kim Jong-il cute — and Barack Obama not?

30 March 2019 9:00 am

Ordinarily, I love books that answer questions I’ve never asked, but Simon May’s baffling book has blown my mind. The…

Eric Hobsbawm, photographed in 1996. He admitted late in life that he had developed in youth ‘a facility for deleting unpleasant or unacceptable data’

How Eric Hobsbawm remained a lifelong communist — despite the ‘unpleasant data’

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Left orphaned and impoverished at 14, Eric Hobsbawm was ripe for conversion to communism, says Richard Davenport-Hines

Teffi’s satire was always on target, but she balanced it with compassion

The best way to defeat totalitarianism? Treat it as a joke

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Is there anything one can never laugh about? A question inevitably hanging over humour writing, it’s best answered by the…

‘The Conversation’, by Henri Matisse, 1908–1912, the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

It is not the masterpieces that were lost, but the collectors, Natalya Semenova rights a wrong

6 October 2018 9:00 am

It is not as surprising at it sounds that two of the greatest collectors of modern art should have been…

Now you see him, now you don’t: Nikolai Yezhov, nicknamed ‘the poison dwarf’, who as head of the NKVD presided over mass arrests and executions at the height of the Great Purge, was airbrushed from Soviet history after his own execution in 1940

The spying game: when has espionage changed the course of history?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

That’s the object of espionage, says Rodric Braithwaite. But amassing facts is not enough. You must understand his fears, ambitions and intentions

Rarely have I sat through such a chaotic and whimsical script: Describe the Night reviewed

19 May 2018 9:00 am

Describe the Night opens in Poland in 1920 where two Russian soldiers, Isaac and Nikolai, discuss truth and falsehood. Next…

Millions of copies of Stalin’s works were printed,but few survive

From Stalin’s poetry to Saddam’s romances: the terrible prose of tyrants

28 April 2018 9:00 am

‘Reading makes the world better. It is how humans merge. How minds connect… Reading is love in action.’ Those are…

Cover illustration for the magazine Garm 1944, by Tove Jansson

A chance to see the Moomins’ creator for the genius she really was: Tove Janssons reviewed

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Tove Jansson, according to her niece’s husband, was a squirt in size and could rarely be persuaded to eat, preferring…

‘Soviet Union Art Exhibition’, Zurich 1931, by Valentina Kulagina

How I fell under the spell of Soviet propaganda posters

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Fraser Nelson on how he – and so many others – fell under the spell of Soviet propaganda posters

Steve Buscemi (Khrushchev), Michael Palin (Molotov) and Paul Whitehouse (Mikoyan) in The Death of Stalin

Not quite as funny as I’d hoped: Death of Stalin reviewed

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin is nearly two hours of men in bad suits bickering, but if you have…

Mykola Bokan’s photograph of his family, including a memorial to ‘Kostya, who died of hunger’, July 1933. Bokan and his son were arrested for documenting the famine — both died in the gulag

Stalin was fully committed to using hunger as a weapon of mass destruction; Red Famine reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

In 1933 my aunt Lenina Bibikova was eight years old. She lived in Kharkov, Ukraine. Every morning a polished black…

Can evolution solve the mystery of why Jeremy Corbyn did so well at the last election?

23 September 2017 9:00 am

One of the mysteries of our age is why socialism continues to appeal to so many people. Whether in the…

What does it really mean to be British today?

22 July 2017 9:00 am

After years of estrangement in a foreign land, what can immigrants expect to find on their return home? The remembered…

Stalin’s sickbed is a strangely enjoyable scenario

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Christopher Wilson’s new novel is much easier to enjoy than to categorise. And ‘enjoy’ is definitely the right word, even…

Well-acted, badly written and poorly directed: Churchill reviewed

17 June 2017 9:00 am

The star of this film is the music, composed by Lorne Balfe. I really liked it, which was just as…

When Khrushchev denounced Stalin: a turning point in Soviet history

10 June 2017 9:00 am

The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party in February 1956 passed off entirely without incident. Speeches on the next five-year…

‘My life in a gulag’: The horror of Stalin’s prison camps

20 May 2017 9:00 am

A conversation with one of the last survivors of Stalin’s camps

After the abdication of the Tsar, imperial soldiers join the revolution in 1917

China Miéville’s take on the Russian Revolution is wonderfully dated

20 May 2017 9:00 am

Of the many books published this year to mark the centenary of the Russian revolution, this is perhaps the most…

‘Peasants’, c.1930, by Kazimir Malevich

The true harshness of Soviet life rarely comes through: RA’s Revolution reviewed

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Vladimir Putin notoriously declared the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 to be one of the greatest disasters of…

A year in the life of Ivan Chistyakov, Gulag guard

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Spare a thought for the poor Gulag guard: the rifleman standing in the freezing wind on the outside of the…

The full horror of the siege of Leningrad is finally revealed

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Stand aside, Homer. I doubt whether even the author of the Iliad could have matched Alexis Peri’s account of the…

Red dawn: Lenin demands revolution, April 1917

The centenary of the Russian revolution should be mourned, not celebrated

10 December 2016 9:00 am

As its centenary looms, never forget the brutal oppression ushered in by the Russian Revolution

The secret of the Bolshoi style will always be safe

10 December 2016 9:00 am

In 2013, Pavel Dmitrichenko, disgruntled principal dancer of the Bolshoi, exacted a now infamous revenge on the company’s artistic director,…