Talk:Robert Conquest

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Notes for expansion of article[edit]

A 1979 collection of essays by Conquest, The Abomination of Moab is mentioned here. [1] Seems to be at least partially about art criticism, thus not appropriate for listing in the existing bibliography in our article, labelled "Historical works".
Article also mentions that Conquest "also doubles as a poet and literary critic", two aspects of hs career not mentioned in our article as far as I can tell.
-- Writtenonsand (talk) 19:55, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Needs cleanup for neutrality and weasel problems[edit]

Article needs cleanup to remove formulations such as

  • "That a known Communist should have been allowed to join the intelligence service seems extraordinary in retrospect"
  • "the Army seems to have taken the view that"
  • "Conquest's time with the IRD has sparked some controversy, becoming a favorite topic of many critics"
  • "Generally, these assertions are viewed with skepticism by other historians"
  • "The most important aspect of the book was ..."
  • "Some communists continue to deny the claims made in The Great Terror ..."
  • "In an attempt to discredit Conquest's work, communist writers accuse him of relying on 'Nazi collaborators, émigrés, and the CIA'"
  • "Conquest's most recent works ... may be seen as his summation of his career."

See WP:NPOV, WP:WEASEL -- Writtenonsand (talk) 20:16, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Hagiography not biography[edit]

This really is a terribly biased piece. Conquest has been widely criticised by historians (not, as this claims, simply by Communists) for - to name a few criticisms - adopting an ideological position towards the USSR that has coloured his conclusions beyond acceptability, for ignoring source material contradicting his arguments and for being too concerned with high politics. 87.127.137.165 (talk) 15:15, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

OK. As an exercise: who has made these criticisms? Where and when were they made? What, specifically, do they say? Sourced and notable criticism does belong in this article. Please bring some specific sources making the criticisms you mention, and propose text for how they should be incorporated. MastCell Talk 17:25, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough demands, but Wikipedia should really be setting the anon user a better another example here. The article is full of claims about what "most historians", or some variant of the phrase, think - which I suspect are not simply weasel-worded but are false. Kalkin (talk) 04:36, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Agreed that these should be cited and attributed, as should criticism. MastCell Talk 17:52, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree and removed some of the most contentious and completely unsourced garbage. Remember, this is a BLP. If someone wants to place this back, please provide reliable sources.Biophys (talk) 19:09, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
Mark Tauger is the leading researcher on the causes of the famine of 1932-3 as having been plant rust. Tauger does thoroughly debunk Conquest's version of a "manmade famine" as something which Conquest portrayed as having been caused by grain exports amidst a purportedly plentiful crop. The famine was caused by actual crop failure, and then aggravated by the failure to understand this and to realize the need for massize imports of grain. The significance of those reduced exports which did take place is that they reflect the failure to realize the crisis, but they are not at all sufficient to account for the famine itself. It's also been established that Conquest and others frequently inflated the number of deaths in the famine by several million. A more detailed analysis of the famine toll in the Ukraine is given in POPULATION STUDIES, November 2002. Conquest and Mace had popularized a "seven million Ukrainians" number as a Cold War counterpart to "six million Jews" from WWII fame, but actual Ukrainian deaths are more like 2.5 million with a couple extra non-Ukrainians dying as well. Apart from the specifics of the famine of 1932-3, there is nothing to support the type of 10+ million numbers which Conquest throws around. Archibald Getty has done the most thorough analysis of the purges of the 1930s and estimates the total numbers of dead from either execution or labor camp deprivement as approximately 1.5 million over the whole decade of the 1930s. Getty & Naumov's (THE ROAD TO TERROR) scale is consistent with Khlevnuik's numbers (A HISTORY OF THE GULAG) in a book for which Conquest wrote the introduction. General demographic studies have been done and much of this data is published in Haynes & Husan, A CENTURY OF STATE MURDER? The overall picture of Soviet mortality figures which shows through in these statistics is woefully inconsistent with Conquest's claim of "20 million." Mortality in 1937 was well below what it had been at any time in the Czarist era. That doesn't make up for innocents killed in the purges, but one can't support claims such as "20 million" when the main demographic tables do not at all match with such claims. They show a broad tendency towards improvement of the peacetime conditions of the Soviet population, in spite of brutalities in the Gulag and Lubyanka. Conquest's "20 million" is pure fiction. Anyway, these are actual source references based on data taken straight from the Soviet archives. Anyone who wishes to examine the matter further can simply begin following these leads. Conquest is a lying hoaxer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 209.86.226.32 (talk) 14:17, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Some of these references are not very well sourced, some are excellent - certainly better than Conquest's figures. Certainly the Ukrainian death toll and its explanation are generally refuted among historians (partly because of the forged pictures in the book). Overall, it is an extremely apologetic article of a pretty lowly rated historian and highly rated propagandist.--Redjsteel (talk) 00:56, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
The fact that Holodomor was man-made was revealed even in Perestroika era Soviet sources. Leonid Kravchuk, then a communist functionary, came to the same conclusion around 1989 (read his quote here). Kravchuk specifically says he was considering drought as a reason but this was not consistent with facts. Lokalkosmopolit (talk) 20:59, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

Ever since I rewrote this article years ago, people have been regularly asserting on this Talk page that Conquest's claims about both the Purges and the Collectivisation Famine have been disproved by various historians. Yet no sustainable changes to the article have been made, because no evidence to support this contention has been produced. If anyone can produce a sourced quotation from a reputable historian who asserts that Conquest was wrong on any significant point, let them do so, and of course it should go in the article. But mere assertions that Conquest was wrong won't do. Intelligent Mr Toad (talk) 07:34, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Article's reference to supposed corrections to Conquest's work is excessively vague[edit]

"After the opening up of the Soviet archives in 1991, detailed, unedited information has been released that contest Conquest's claims heavily."

Sorry, folks, this is just too vague, even if accompanied by a couple of references. What is he supposed to have got wrong, and what is the evidence suggesting that he did so? (The paragraph that follows in the article does not address these issues, being about alternative interpretations of how Stalin's crimes relate to Lenin and so on). Nandt1 (talk) 13:40, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. Removed.Biophys (talk) 21:18, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Conquest's Laws of Politics?[edit]

Nothing about Conquest's Laws of Politics? What a huge omission. 75.72.44.227 (talk) 15:32, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Some googling shows a lot of confusion about the law or laws. The Three Laws of Politics appear to be these:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

alternatively:

1. Everyone is a reactionary about subjects he understands.

and:

2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.
3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

I can find a number of references to these online. But I cannot find any authoritative citation to where they are from. The first appears to be Conquest's, and coined first, perhaps in response to critics of The Great Terror. It seems that John O'Sullivan may have coined the second law. And the third seems to be Conquest's, but coined much after the first, perhaps in Reflections on a Ravaged Century.
Leonard (talk) 18:55, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

External links[edit]

I have just Wikified the section External links. From the formatting, these look to have been cut & pasted from somewhere else. Unfortunately the links were not copied (except for a couple), resulting in a bunch of External links with no links. I have left each entry in the hope that another editor will guess from where they were cut & pasted, and add in the links. The alternative is to delete those with no links. HairyWombat 01:36, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

They were cut-and-pasted from an old version of the article after they were accidentally deleted - here. I've restored the old section. Shimgray | talk | 06:43, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

That looks a lot better. However, there are too many. Things like his biog at Hoover, and profiles at Stanford and Sparticus belong as <ref>s, not external links, but I will leave it to somebody else to clean this up. (I have no particular interest in this topic.) HairyWombat 19:17, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

Here is text in question. Please quote the source (which appears in the end of text) to show that it actually supports assertions made in the text. Thanks, My very best wishes (talk) 21:09, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Here: This data convinced Robert Conquest that the thesis about a genocidal famine must have been wrong.[2] -YMB29 (talk) 21:16, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Here we are talking about retraction. This is serious matter. The retractions are openly done by author by publishing in a widely accessible source. To my knowledge, Robert Conquest never done this with respect to Soviet terror-famine (if you could provide ref to his own official retraction, that would be a proof that retraction was made. This book refers to unpublished letter. Therefore, I think this should be removed, especially in a BLP. My very best wishes (talk) 21:42, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
This retraction is good enough. If the authors published a private letter without Conquest's permission, he could of sued them.
Anyway, the source cited clearly says that he dismissed his own view, so your opinion on whether this is true or not does not matter since we go by what the sources says. -YMB29 (talk) 23:21, 17 January 2015 (UTC)