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A Spy in the Archives: A Memoir of Cold War Russia

A Spy in the Archives: A Memoir of Cold War Russia
Sheila Fitzpatrick

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Moscow in the 1960s was the other side of the Iron Curtain: mysterious, exotic, even dangerous. In 1966 the historian Sheila Fitzpatrick travelled to Moscow to research in the Soviet archives. This was the era of Brezhnev, of a possible 'thaw' in the Cold War, when the Soviets couldn't decide either to thaw out properly or re-freeze. Moscow, the world capital of socialism, was renowned for its drabness. The buses were overcrowded; there were endemic shortages and endless queues. This was also the age of regular spying scandals and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and it was no surprise that visiting students were subject to intense scrutiny by the KGB. Many of Fitzpatrick's friends were involved in espionage activities - and indeed others were accused of being spies or kept under close surveillance. In this book, Sheila Fitzpatrick provides a unique insight into everyday life in Soviet Moscow. Full of drama and colourful characters, her remarkable memoir highlights the dangers and drudgery faced by Westerners living under communism.

Author Info

Sheila Fitzpatrick is Emerita Professor of History at the University of Chicago and Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney. One of the most acclaimed historians of twentieth-century Russia, she is the author of several books, including The Russian Revolution; Stalin's Peasants, Everyday Stalinism, Tear off the Masks!, and My Father's Daughter: Memories of an Australian Childhood.


Shortlisted for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize

'absorbing... an exceptionally lucid and purposive account... this is a book about self-discovery, and about the shy, self-doubting but unusually astute and determined young woman who embarked on it... a remarkable record not only of personal history, but of Soviet and indeed British history as well.'

'...this autobiographical sketch is invaluable for the vivid insight into what living in the post-Stalin USSR was like.'
Literary Review


'a vivid account'
Times Higher Education

'Fitzpatrick conveys, often with wry amusement, the texture of life as a student in Moscow.'
Wendy Slater, Times Literary Supplement

'...the insanely readable crowning achievement of her distinguished career.'
Slavoj Zizek

'The vanished world of Brezhnev's Russia brought to life with unusual verve, a disarming candour and a shrewd eye for telling detail.'
Robert Dessaix

'As gripping as any spy novel, Fitzpatrick's memoir captures student life in 1960s Moscow perfectly.  Against a surreal backdrop of KGB informers, shabby Moscow flats and sedate reading rooms, she also tells a story about growing up, as a woman and an intellectual, with a warmth that is irresistible and an honesty that is almost piercing.'
Catherine Merridale, author of Red Fortress

'Fitzpatrick conveys a fascinating portrait of an academic and intellectual world where the ideological battles are real, current and heartfelt... a candid memoir that captures a moment in time in a way that is honest, thoughtful and often entertaining.'
James Taylor, History Vault

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781784532956
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2015
Number of Pages: 352
Height: 216
Width: 135
Illustrations: 8pp bw plates

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