Robert Conquest

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Robert Conquest passed away on August 3, 2015. He was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

His awards and honors include the Jefferson Lectureship, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for achievement in the humanities (1993), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Dan David Prize (2012), Poland's Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit (2009), Estonia's Cross of Terra Mariana (2008), and the Ukrainian Order of Yaroslav Mudryi (2005).

He was the author of twenty-one books on Soviet history, politics, and international affairs, including the classic The Great Terror—which has been translated into twenty languages—and the acclaimed Harvest of Sorrow (1986). His most recent works are Reflections on a Ravaged Century (1999) and The Dragons of Expectation (2005).

Conquest has been literary editor of the London Spectator, brought out eight volumes of poetry and one of literary criticism, edited the seminal New Lines anthologies (1955–63), and published a verse translation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic Prussian Nights (1977). He has also published a science fiction novel, A World of Difference (1955), and is joint author, with Kingsley Amis, of another novel, The Egyptologists (1965). In 1997 he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Michael Braude Award for Light Verse.

He was a fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, and the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. He has been a research fellow at the London School of Economics, a fellow of the Columbia University Russian Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a distinguished visiting scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and a research associate at Harvard University's Ukrainian Research Institute.

Educated at Winchester College and the University of Grenoble, he was an exhibitioner in modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving his BA and MA in politics, philosophy, and economics and his DLitt in history.

Conquest served in the British infantry in World War II and thereafter in His Majesty's 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.

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Recent Commentary

In Celia’s Office

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

Hoover fellow Robert Conquest on men who fought on opposite sides of the Cold War—George Orwell and Alger Hiss—and on the legacy of their era. “Although the Cold War is over in reality, it is still being waged mentally in certain circles.”

Soviet premier Vyacheslav Molotov and Uzbek party leaders

Inside Stalin's Darkroom

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

Hoover fellow Robert Conquest reviews a new book, The Commissar Vanishes, that documents Soviet doctoring of photographs, paintings, and even sculpture. How the Communists cropped history.

WW II recruiting poster calls for the good of the motherland

You Are Strong, You Are Weak, Mother Russia

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 30, 1998

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary made quick transitions to democracy and free markets. Yet Russia itself failed to do so. Why? Hoover fellow Robert Conquest explains, drawing on eight centuries of Russian history and his own lifetime of study.

For The Record

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 30, 1997

No one foresaw the fall of the Soviet Union, right? Wrong. Excerpts from some two decades of Hoover fellow Robert Conquest's own writing amount to an essay in prescience.

Totalitarianism and Technology

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Hoover fellow Robert Conquest examines the uses to which Lenin and Stalin put the technology of their day-and to which future totalitarians might put the technology of tomorrow.

Stalin: The Revised Edition

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

A recent book entitled Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia argues that "Stalin was not guilty of mass first-degree murder from 1934 to 1941." Hoover fellow Robert Conquest examines this argument, engaging in a serene demolition.

A Muddle Wrapped in a Mystery

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Hoover fellow Robert Conquest examines the prospects for peace and prosperity in Russia. His conclusion? "Cross your fingers."

Trotsky, the Fugitive

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 1996

Although a leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the brilliant theorist and orator Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927 and then, in 1929, banished from the Soviet Union. His crime? Opposing Stalin. In 1940, Stalin's secret police murdered Trotsky in Mexico. Reviewing a new biography of Trotsky, Hoover fellow Robert Conquest reflects on a man characterized both by ruthlessness and by "the glamor of the Lost Cause."

Last Empire: Nationality and the Soviet Future

by Robert Conquestvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, January 1, 1986

In these sixteen essays distinguished scholars and thinkers examine the various manifestations of the minority problem in the USSR.

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