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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). Her new book Lost Souls: Soviet Displaced Persons and the birth of the Cold War will be published in November 2024. She is a professor at Australian Catholic University.

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Reconstructing Lenin' by Tamás Krausz

June-July 2015, no. 372 27 May 2015
Who cares any more about Lenin? Time was, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) was revered, at least in some quarters, as the founding father of the Soviet Union, head of the first revolutionary state, pioneer in building socialism to end capitalist exploitation and create a better world. In the Soviet Union, Stalin overshadowed him for a few decades, while claiming loyal discipleship. But then, in ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Bloodhound' by Ramona Koval

May 2015, no. 371 27 April 2015
This engaging but disturbing memoir describes Ramona Koval’s obsessive attempts to find herself another father than the one who had brought her up, the ‘Dad’ who was married to ‘Mama’. Dad and Mama, along with most of their circle in 1950s Melbourne, were Jewish immigrants from Poland, among the tens of thousands who came to Australia as displaced persons (DPs) after World War II. Ramona ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Red Apple: Communism and Mccarthyism in Cold War New York' by Phillip Deery

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
This book is about a moral panic resulting in the deployment of huge police and bureaucratic resources to ruin the lives of some unlucky individuals who were, or seemed to be, Communist Party members or sympathisers. None of Deery’s cases seems to have been doing anything that posed an actual threat to the US government or population; that, at least, is how it looks in retrospect. But at the tim ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'A Spy among Friends: Kim Philby and the great betrayal' by Ben Macintyre

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
Harold Adrian Russell (Kim) Philby was the Third Man of the notorious Cambridge spy network set up in the 1930s and partially unmasked in the early 1950s, when Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean fled to Moscow. He had been in British intelligence (MI6) since the beginning of the war, but had been working for Soviet intelligence for some years before that. A high-flyer, charming and sociable, he rose r ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'In My Mother's Hands: A disturbing memoir of family life' by Biff Ward

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
For anyone who has ever complained about a difficult mother, or written a memoir about one, this is a humbling book. How trivial, by comparison, our complaints seem. The subtitle promises (or threatens) a disturbing memoir, and so it is. I found it difficult to get out of my head days after reading it. Biff (born Elizabeth in 1942) Ward was the second child of historian Russel Ward, author of The ... (read more)

'History vs Memoir' by Sheila Fitzpatrick

June–July 2014, no. 362 27 May 2014
In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of humour. Instead of his usual attire – a shabby red velvet jacket with tobacco stains and bow tie – Demoyte turns up wearing a nondescript grey suit, explaining to a friend: ‘Am I to be summed up by a slip of a girl ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Bluebeard's Bride: Alma Moodie, violinist' by Kay Dreyfus

February 2014, no. 358 17 January 2014
Alma Moodie’s story is remarkable, which makes it all the stranger that she has been so thoroughly forgotten. A frail child prodigy from central Queensland, she became Carl Flesch’s favourite pupil and a renowned concert violinist in Germany after World War I, friend and performer of most of the great figures of international contemporary music, from Max Reger to Igor Stravinsky. As no recordi ... (read more)

'In the Moscow archives' by Sheila Fitzpatrick

September 2013, no. 354 22 August 2013
There’s no ASIO file on me, not even a mention in someone else’s file, according to my keyword search. It’s almost insulting, given that I spent several years in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and later, as a Soviet historian in the United States in the Cold War 1970s, was suspected of being soft on communism. My father, the radical Australian historian Brian Fitzpatrick, had an ASIO fil ... (read more)

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life' by Artur Domosławski, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

February 2013, no. 348 01 February 2013
A famous Polish communist foreign correspondent? It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but actually Ryszard Kapuściński did achieve international fame towards the end of the Cold War, after a highly successful career covering the Third World for leading media in the People’s Republic of Poland from the 1950s. Africa and, later, Latin America were his specialties; he was an enthusiast for de ... (read more)
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