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Mark Kramer makes a most interesting comparison of Conquest’s book Power and Policy in the USSR: A Study of Soviet Dynamics from 1961 with his own detailed analysis of the power struggle in the Kremlin after Stalin’s death. Kramer has scrutinized recently published documents from the Presidential Archive and other Russian depositories relating to the arrest and prosecution of Lavrentii Beriia. Kramer concludes that despite the lack of these kinds of primary sources, Conquest managed a fairly sound presentation of the main traits in the post-Stalin leadership. However, Kramer could have reached even more interesting historiographical conclusions if he had compared recent data with materials from the British Foreign Office and intelligence community of the mid-1950s. Obviously, even in this early book, Conquest to a large extent based his presentation on materials from the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office.

Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: Penguin, 2005b.

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Scientists and policy makers have debated those numbers ever since, and critics of the Department of Veterans Affairs have questioned whether the agency’s mental health services accelerate recovery from post-traumatic stress or — in some cases — retard it. The agency’s focus on the disorder can prime people to see the diagnosis as a catchall for any postwar mental problems, these critics say, and to see disability benefits as an incentive to stay sick.

LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–2006. 10th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Robert Conquest was born in 1917. In the 1930s, he studied at the universities in Grenoble and Oxford. As a member of the Communist Party group at Oxford, he traveled to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1937. He visited Leningrad, Moscow, and Odessa. At that time, he did not understand what was going on behind the façade of the propaganda machine. However, a few years later, he left the Communist Party. As an officer in the British army in the immediate postwar period, Conquest saw the Sovietization process in Eastern Europe, and this experience made him decidedly anti-communist.2 Conquest never visited the Soviet Union between 1937 and its final year of existence, 1990, when the Communist regime was collapsing. It is not known whether he was a persona non grata who had been denied a visa, or whether his not having traveled there was a matter of his own choice.

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Published on: November 18, 2013

THE BRITISH HISTORIAN Robert Conquest is without doubt among the most well-known and most often quoted specialists on Soviet history. His major works have been translated into dozens of languages. Since the 1960s, Conquest has written influential books on Stalin’s terror against the party cadres and other groups in Soviet society in the late 1930s. Another book addressed the notorious Kolyma labor camps for gold production in the Soviet Far East. His monograph and documentary film on the 1932–33 famine in the Soviet Union had a deep impact in the 1980s on the public and politicians in Canada and the United States.1

Originally posted on the by Benedict Carey

Several of his earlier works acquired a new and perhaps even more important role in Russia in the late 1980s. Under glasnost, Soviet publishing houses and television stations made his Stalin biographies and books on the repression available for the first time to a wide, eager audience. The demand was great in Russia for Western accounts and new interpretations of Soviet history, which had been so falsified by Communist ideology and Party censorship.

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Since the early 1990s, Conquest has been on the editorial board of several major research projects on Soviet history and an eager participant in the scholarly periodicals dealing with the changing research conditions in contemporary Russian history. Conquest is still an active scholar at the Hoover Institution for War, Peace and Revolution, and is writing an autobiography, and a book of poems.