Aileen Kelly is a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. Her books include Toward Another Shore: Russian Thinkers Between Necessity and Chance.


Getting Isaiah Berlin Wrong

Isaiah Berlin, 1955

Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal

by Arie M. Dubnov
A marvelous raconteur famed for his opulent intellect and brilliant wit, Isaiah Berlin could easily give the impression of being an intellectual dilettante. He often endorsed such criticism self-mockingly; asked by his biographer about the source of his serene well-being, he replied that he was happy because he was superficial.

Why They Believed in Stalin

Tear Off the Masks! Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia

by Sheila Fitzpatrick

Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary Under Stalin

by Jochen Hellbeck
In a work published after he was expelled from the Soviet Union, the dissident writer Alexander Zinoviev depicted a new type of human being: Homo sovieticus, a “fairly disgusting creature” who was the end product of the Soviet regime’s efforts to transform the population into embodiments of the values of …

A Great Russian Prophet

The Word That Causes Death's Defeat: Poems of Memory

by Anna Akhmatova,translated from the Russian, with an introductory biography, critical essays, and commentary and Nancy K. Anderson
No poet has been more photographed or painted than Anna Akhmatova: the unique profile with its imperious nose is instantly recognizable. Since her debut as a poet in the 1910s her contemporaries were fascinated with her image: tall, slender, very pale with deep-set eyes and a melancholy, pensive expression; she …

The Two Dostoevskys

Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881

by Joseph Frank
Albert Camus once declared that the author of The Possessed and not Karl Marx was the greatest prophet for the twentieth century. Dostoevsky’s depiction of the monstrous consequences of ideological fanaticism is equally pertinent to the twenty-first. Yet this great champion of liberty against the tyranny of ideas was himself …

Keeping the Sparks Alive

Sakharov: A Biography

by Richard Lourie
Andrei Sakharov first came to world attention on July 22, 1968, when The New York Times published his essay “Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom.” With the advent of nuclear weapons, he wrote, mankind was faced with a choice: to risk extinction by increasing its divisions, or to …

In the Promised Land

Thank You, Comrade Stalin! Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War

by Jeffrey Brooks

Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents

by Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov
“Great massacres may be commanded by tyrants, but they are imposed by peoples,” H.R. Trevor-Roper wrote on the European witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Afterwards, when the mood has changed, or when the social pressure, thanks to the blood-letting, no longer exists, the anonymous people slinks away, …