Andre Van Loon

Love me, or go to hell

This is a wonderful and moving book of correspondence and biographical documents promising one Tchaikovsky in its subtitle and introduction, but actually delivering another — and thank the musical gods for that. Nothing here is horrid or even secret; the Russian edition was published in 2009 and has been used by English-speaking authorities since. And

Bolsheviks on board

Full allowance must be made for the desperate tasks to which the German war leaders were already committed… Nevertheless it was with a sense of awe that they turned upon Russia the most grisly of weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia. As so often, Churchill

Fleeing Mother Russia

‘Ah! Scrubbing the deck! My childhood dream! As a child I had once seen a sailor hosing the deck with a large hose while another sailor scrubbed away with a stiff, long-handled brush with bristles cut at an angle. I had thought at the time that nothing in the world could be jollier.’ This is

The elite who tried to save Russia

The veteran Russian historian Dominic Lieven’s new study of Russia’s descent towards the first world war is deeply researched, highly valuable in its focus on Russia, and unfailingly well-written: more proof of Lieven’s profound knowledge of the Russian empire. One of his earlier works, Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime (1989), focused on the 150

The prophet Tolstoy and his dodgy vicar

One fine day in June 1896, a lone Russian nihilist visited Leo Tolstoy on his country estate. Come to hear the master, the stranger questioned Tolstoy about his latest beliefs. Satisfied, he left later that day. But then he returned with a written confession. He was an undercover policeman, sent to check on what Tolstoy