Sunday, January 27, 2019

Appreciation …

… Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews ‘The Great Terror’ by Robert Conquest and ‘The Harvest of Sorrow’ by Robert Conquest — LRB 24 January 2019. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bruising though his polemics could be, they were evidently all part of the job from Conquest’s point of view; unlike many Sovietologists who engaged in them during the Cold War, he seemed not to feel personal malice against his targets. Eight years after The Harvest of Sorrow, I published a book on collectivisation (Stalin’s Peasants, 1994) that included a treatment of the famine that was non-intentionalist and not specifically focused on Ukraine. Conquest wrote a favourable review of it – and, when the review was turned down by the commissioning weekly, presumably because they wanted and had expected a hatchet job, sent the review to me, without comment, through a third party. Perhaps if my publisher had thought to ask him, he would have written a blurb for it, as he did later for Wheatcroft and Davies’s book (‘a truly remarkable contribution to research into this important field’), subject only to the condition that in their text, which had substantive disagreements with him, they clarify his stance on intentionality in the terms quoted above. When he ran into Wheatcroft some years later at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, he invited him home for dinner.

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