On the Spot: Anne Applebaum

‘What will future generations judge us most harshly for? That we allowed Donald Trump to violate the US constitution.’

Why are you an intellectual historian?
I watched communism collapse as a journalist in Warsaw in 1989 and ever since I’ve been trying to understand how the regimes came to power in the first place.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you?
Nothing is inevitable; change a few decisions and everything could have been different. Think of the Berlin Wall.

Which book has had the greatest influence on you?
Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror. I read it as a teenager.

What book in your field should everyone read?
My Life by Leon Trotsky.

Which moment would you most like to go back to?
Petrograd in 1917, between the February and October revolutions.

Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?
Probably Richard Pipes. Also the Marquis de Custine.

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