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A Spy in the Archives

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.
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About the Author

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.


'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.' - The Guardian '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 'A Spy in the Archives is the insanely readable crowning achievement of a distinguished career, a book every historian should dream of writing. Through the autobiographic report of her visit to the Soviet Union, she tells a story of bureaucratic hassles but also of deep and lasting personal friendships.'- Slavoj Zizek 'The vanished world of Brezhnev's Russia brought to life with unususal erve, a disarming candour and a shrewd eye for telling detail.' - Robert Dessaix

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