Daniel Snowman meets the historian of Russia and its peoples.
When I first met Geoffrey Hosking in the 1970s, he was a lecturer in History at the University of Essex but his current enthusiasm was Russian literature. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky? No, he said: recent and present-day Russian literature. Dissident literature, then – all that samizdat stuff? Again, no. He was interested in novelists published in the USSR of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, some of whom, he said, were really rather good. Here, evidently, was a man who sidestepped the stereotypes.