August 8th, 2015
Episode 533 of 1349 episodes
The historian and poet Robert Conquest, who died this week aged 98, was a writer who carved out a huge reputation as a chronicler of the Stalinist era. Robert Conquest had been a Communist as a young man but became disillusioned by what happened in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and eventually produced The Great Terror, a magisterial account of the years of oppression. One of his closest friendships was with the writer Kingsley Amis - we have been speaking to his son, the novelist Martin Amis, about the historian. "He effected a revolution of consciousness," Martin Amis told Today. "I don't think anyone at that time was immune to utopian feelings and a longing for something new," said Amis, explaining why presenting this negative portrayal of Stalin's Soviet Union was such a challenge. "The size of the lie was so great." In the face of this 'lie', Conquest sought to emancipate himself from his past romantic credulity, Mr Amis said.