Reading History: Stalin's Russia

Christopher Read explores the historiography of Russia under Joseph Stalin.

The historian of twentieth-century Russia labours under a number of disadvantages, some of his own making, others well beyond his control. The main ones, which are themselves interconnected, are that access to sources is relatively limited and that the subject is highly politicised. Related to the latter is the fact that there is no strong historiographical tradition in this area among Russians themselves because of the ideological control exerted by the Soviet authorities. These conditions also affect history written by émigré Russians and other non-Soviet historians. The atmosphere of emotional involvement and embattled commitment sometimes engendered can lead to lively polemic but does not always produce the best grounded historical analysis.

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