Robert Conquest, RIP

Robert Conquest (1917-2015) was a great intellectual, historian, and moral conscience. For the denizens of what used to be the Soviet Bloc, Robert Conquest’s name is truly legendary. I remember my own first experience with Conquest’s masterpiece The Great Terror. It was in Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania, in the mid 1970s, when I got it from a famous dissident’s wife as a personal gift. He had decided to remain in France and urged his wife to offer his books to a few friends and acquaintances. I was lucky to be counted among them. I read it in a few days (and nights). It was a truly transformative experience, as devastatingly illuminating as having read Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, George Orwell’s 1984 or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.