Jon Davis recommends

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Course: History BA (Hons)

31 March 2020

Jonathan Davis

We asked our BA History lecturers to give us their recommendations for a textbook, novel and film that students should try before joining the course.

These selections are by Dr Jonathan Davis, Director of the Labour History Research Unit and a specialist in 20th-century Russian history:

History Text
Stephen F. Cohen’s The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin (2011) is a highly readable and detailed account of what happened when Stalin’s labour camps opened after the dictator’s death in 1953. The stories are a reminder of the horrors of Stalinism, but the book overall highlights the changes that emerged within the Soviet system after Stalin’s death.

Novel
Neil Gaiman’s excellent Norse Mythology (2017). Not a novel but a collection of stories that contributed to the Vikings’ culture and understanding of themselves and their world. Read this to find out the truth about Thor!

Film
Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg (2015). A wonderful portrayal of Cold War relations during the famous prisoner swaps between the USSR and USA on Glienicke Bridge. The film stretches the historical truth on occasion, but it captures the mood and suspicion of the Cold War perfectly.
 

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