Saturday, August 08, 2015

Robert Conquest R.I.P.

Robert Conquest, one of the greatest historians of the USSR, finally died this week on 3 August 2015 at age 98. Conquest was one of the few scholars in the English speaking world during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s willing to deal critically with the Soviet Union under Stalin and not sugar coat the regime for ideological reasons. While his quantitative estimates of various categories of victims of Stalinism have turned out to be too high, his basic qualitative judgment of the nature of the Soviet regime during the 1930s and 1940s turned out to be right. So did his assessment of western lackeys of Moscow who attempted to defend the regime. In particular his work in the 1960s and 1970s on the deportation of whole peoples during the 1940s still holds up remarkably well as does his work in the 1980s on the Ukrainian Holodomor. Certainly his work along with the writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were some of the earliest works I encountered that spurred the direction of my own historical research.

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