I began this blog a few months ago partly in response to a lecture given at Foyle’s by the British journalist and “historian” Martin Sixsmith. I found this lecture, which was about Russian history, so upsetting that I felt obliged to respond it, which I did in a post on this blog. This in turn led to a whole series of other posts about Russian affairs.
When I started this blog I was not aware of the existence of other English language blogs on Russian affairs written by people who either are Russian or who speak Russian and who are therefore by definition far more qualified to write about Russian affairs than me. Now that I have become aware of these blogs it seems to me that rather than simply duplicate what they say I will confine myself in future to commenting on Russian affairs in responses to these blogs:
This will free me to write about matters closer to home or about which I have something distinctive to say, such as for example the eurozone crisis.
I should say that I intend to make two exceptions to this rule. One concerns legal matters that pertain to Russian affairs. For example I have been researching for some time the allegations that continue to appear in the British press concerning Putin’s personal wealth and the sources of it. The other concerns questions of historical interest where my original training as a historian I feel does qualify me to comment. I have for example recently read what are in my opinion seriously flawed books about the Crimean War (by Orlando Figes) and about the Russo Japanese War (the latter a subject that particularly interests me). I have also read an exceptional book about the Kirov murder published as part of the outstanding series on Soviet history by Yale University Press. That series is unique in Soviet and Russian studies in that it combines proper use of archive material with consideration of the work of contemporary Russian historians working in the field. Lastly I have read two popular histories about Rasputin (one by Edvard Radzinsky), which though largely worthless as works of historical interpretation and analysis do between them at least have the merit of making public the relevant archive material, making it possible for the first time to arrive at a proper assessment of Rasputin’s personality, his relationship with the Empress, the vexed question of the extent of his political influence and the circumstances of his murder. I hope at some point to write reviews and commentaries on all of these books.