His­to­rian Robert Con­quest passes aged 98

The China Post - - ARTS - BY OLGA R. RO­DRIGUEZ

Bri­tish-born his­to­rian Robert Con­quest, whose in­flu­en­tial works on Soviet history shed light on the terror dur­ing the Stalin era, has died. He was 98.

Con­quest’s wife, El­iz­a­beth Neece, said he died Mon­day of pneu­mo­nia in Palo Alto, Cal­i­for­nia.

Con­quest was the au­thor of 21 books on Soviet history, pol­i­tics, and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. His “The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thir­ties,” which doc­u­mented the purges of dic­ta­tor Josef Stalin in the 1930s, re­mains one of the most in­flu­en­tial stud­ies of Soviet history.

Pub­lished in 1968, the book es­ti­mated that un­der Stalin, 20 mil­lion peo­ple died in la­bor camps, ex­e­cu­tions and famines. It has been trans­lated into more than 20 lan­guages.

“Robert Con­quest set the gold stan­dard for care­ful re­search, to­tal in­tegrity, and clar­ity of ex­pres­sion about the real Soviet Union,” said for­mer Sec­re­tary of State and Hoover In­sti­tu­tion distin­guished fel­low Ge­orge P. Shultz.

A renowned his­to­rian of Soviet history, pol­i­tics and for­eign pol­icy, he re­ceived the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom in 2005.

A noted poet and a fig­ure in the “Move­ment” po­etry of 1950s Eng­land, Con­quest spent 28 years at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion where he was a Se­nior Re­search Fel­low.

While at Hoover, Con­quest again wrote about Stalin’s regime in “The Harvest of Sor­row,” which de­picted the bru­tal col­lec­tiviza­tion of Soviet farms un­der Stalin.

“Once again, he defini­tively es- tab­lished the colos­sal scale of Soviet hor­rors, cor­rectly iden­ti­fied their source in Marx­ist ideas and prac­tices, and un­der­scored the le­gions of Western du­pes who re­tailed Soviet lies, from when Stalin was alive and decades there­after,” said Stephen Kotkin, Hoover Re­search Fel­low and Prince­ton Univer­sity his­to­rian.

He was an ex­hi­bi­tioner in mod­ern history at Mag­dalen Col­lege, Ox­ford, re­ceiv­ing his BA and MA in pol­i­tics, phi­los­o­phy, and eco­nom­ics.

Con­quest served in the Bri­tish in­fantry in World War II and there­after in the diplo­matic ser­vice. He was awarded the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire. In 1996 he was named a Com­pan­ion of the Or­der of St. Michael and St. Ge­orge, the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion said.

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