Sheila Fitzpatrick

Sheila Fitzpatrick

Sheila Fitzpatrick’s most recent books include The Shortest History of the Soviet Union (2022),  On Stalin’s Team: The years of living dangerously in Soviet politics (2015) and White Russians, Red Peril: A Cold War history of migration to Australia (2020). She is a professor at Australian Catholic University.

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Red Witch: A biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard' by Nathan Hobby

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Red Witch: A biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard' by Nathan Hobby
Katharine Susannah Prichard is one of those mid-century Australian literary figures like Vance Palmer whose name is mentioned in literary histories more often than her books are read. As it happens, she was a schoolfriend of Vance’s future wife, Nettie, née Higgins, who became a distinguished literary critic, as well as of the pioneering woman lawyer Christian Jollie Smith, and Hilda Bull, late ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning' by Stuart Macintyre

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Party: The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning' by Stuart Macintyre
Stuart Macintyre was in a league of his own as a historian of communism. That’s not just a comment on his status as a historian of the Communist Party of Australia, whose first volume, The Reds (1999), took the party from its origins in 1920 to brief illegality at the beginning of World War II, and whose second, The Party, covering the period from the 1940s to the end of the 1960s, now appears p ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Summer of Theory: History of a rebellion, 1960–1990' by Philipp Felsch translated by Tony Crawford

March 2022, no. 440 20 February 2022
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Summer of Theory: History of a rebellion, 1960–1990' by Philipp Felsch translated by Tony Crawford
‘Theory of what?’ is the obvious lay response to Philipp Felsch’s title. But for those in the know, it goes without saying that he is talking about Theory with a capital T. That strange hybrid of philosophy, ethnology, and literary criticism cast its spell over participants in the student movement in Germany from the mid-1960s and in Paris after 1968. In the 1980s and 1990s, it reached the h ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet home front during World War II' by Wendy Z. Goldman and Donald Filtzer

September 2021, no. 435 19 August 2021
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet home front during World War II' by Wendy Z. Goldman and Donald Filtzer
When I was a graduate student in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s, Russian friends used to talk a lot about World War II. Their stories were of hardship and suffering stoically borne by the population and finally vindicated by victory in 1945. This was not dissimilar from what was published in the Soviet press on the subject, but without the press’s obligatory references to the wise leadership ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Last Million: Europe’s displaced persons from World War to Cold War' by David Nasaw

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Last Million: Europe’s displaced persons from World War to Cold War' by David Nasaw
This is a book in the expansive American tradition of long, well-researched historical works on political topics with broad appeal, written in an accessible style for a popular audience. David Nasaw has not previously worked on displaced persons, but he is the author of several big biographies, most recently of political patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy. If you are interested in displaced persons beca ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Traitors and Spies: Espionage and corruption in high places in Australia, 1901–50' by John Fahey

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Traitors and Spies: Espionage and corruption in high places in Australia, 1901–50' by John Fahey
I am a great fan of archives, and so is John Fahey, a former officer of an Australian intelligence service (the Defence Signals Directorate) turned historian. His previous book, Australia’s First Spies (2018), covered the same time period (1901–50) but focused on the good guys (our spies) rather than the bad ones (their spies). His itemised list of Australian, British, and US archival files co ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Ratline: Love, lies and justice on the trail of a Nazi fugitive' by Philippe Sands

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Ratline: Love, lies and justice on the trail of a Nazi fugitive' by Philippe Sands
Hunting Nazis is an almost guaranteed reading pleasure – the joy of the chase, plus the moral uplift of being on the side of virtue. I started Philippe Sands’s book with a sense both of anticipation and déjà vu. A respected British international human rights lawyer with the proven ability to tell a story, Sands should be giving us a superior version of a familiar product. Many readers will r ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl guide to the future' by Kate Brown

October 2019, no. 415 23 September 2019
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl guide to the future' by Kate Brown
This is a very disturbing book. It’s not just the Chernobyl story, but also Kate Brown’s broader story about the worldwide but inadequately studied impact on public health of lifetime exposure to ‘chronic doses of man-made radiation from medical procedures, nuclear reactors and their accidents, and atomic bombs and their fall-out’. But let’s take Chernobyl first. Cover-up is a big part ... (read more)

Ives Westlake Debussy (Australian String Quartet)

ABR Arts 09 September 2019
Ives Westlake Debussy (Australian String Quartet)
Nigel Westlake’s new quartet, Sacred Sky, commissioned by the Australian String Quartet, had its première before an enthusiastic audience at Sydney’s Recital Hall on 4 September 2019. Westlake wrote it in honour of his sister, the artist Kate Westlake, who died of pancreatic cancer in January 2018. He is not the first composer to write a quartet on a sibling’s death: Felix Mendelssohn did t ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s wartime correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt' edited by David Reynolds and Vladimir Pechatnov

April 2019, no. 410 25 March 2019
Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s wartime correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt' edited by David Reynolds and Vladimir Pechatnov
Joseph Stalin wanted this wartime correspondence published, and one can see why: he comes off best. As the authors comment, ‘the transcript of the Big Three meetings demonstrates Stalin’s careful mastery of the issues and his superior skill as a diplomatist, regularly keeping his silence but then speaking out in a terse and timely manner at key moments’. He is the one with his eye on the bal ... (read more)
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