Shukman, Harold 1931–

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Shukman, Harold 1931–


Born March 23, 1931, in London, England; son of David (a tailor) and Masha Shukman; married Ann King-Farlow, December 22, 1956 (divorced, 1971); married wife, Barbara (an artist), March 30, 1973; children: (first marriage) David, Henry, Clare; (stepchildren from second marriage) Ghislaine Jacobs, Amelia Jacobs, Adam Jacobs. Education: University of Nottingham, B.A. (with first class honors), 1956; Oxford University, D.Phil., 1960. Politics: "Mildly reactionary/liberal." Religion: "Lapsed psychoanalysand." Hobbies and other interests: Silversmithing.


Home—Oxford, England. Office—Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, St. Antony's College, Oxford OX2 6JF, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Standard Telephones, London, England, trainee radio engineer, 1947-51; Marconi Telecommunications, Chelmsford, Essex, England, executive, 1956-57; St. Antony's College, Oxford University, Oxford, England, 1961—, began as a research fellow, became a lecturer in modern Russian history, emeritus fellow, 1998—. Consultant to British Broadcasting Corp. Military service: Royal Air Force, Russian interpreter, 1951-53; became sergeant.


Jewellery and Silver Society of Oxford.


Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Putnam (New York, NY), 1967.

(With George Katkov) Lenin's Path to Power, Macdonald (London, England), 1971.

(With F.W. Deakin and H.T. Willetts) A History of World Communism, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1975.

(Editor) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Russian Revolution, Basil Blackwell (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor) Stalin's Generals, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Rasputin, Sutton Publishing (Stroud, England), 1997.

The Russian Revolution, Sutton Publishing (Stroud, England), 1998.

(Editor) Agents for Change: Intelligence Services in the 21st Century, St. Ermin's (London, England), 2000.

(Editor in English) Stalin and the Soviet-Finnish War, 1939-1940, edited in Russian by E.N. Kulkov, translation by Tatyana Sokokina, foreword by A.O. Chubaryan, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2002.

(With Geoffrey Elliott) Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War, St. Ermin's (London, England), 2003.

(Editor) Redefining Stalinism, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2003.

War or Revolution: Russian Jews and Conscription in Britain, 1917, Vallentine Mitchell (Portland, OR), 2006.

(With Felix Patrikeeff) Railways and the Russo-Japanese War: Transporting War, Routledge (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of a television script for The Great War, a series broadcast by British Broadcasting Corp. Contributor to Slavic studies journals, including Bulletin of Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs.


(And editor, with Max Hayward and Michael Glenny) Three Soviet Plays, Penguin (New York, NY), 1965.

(With Max Hayward) Valentin Kataev, Holy Well, Walker (New York, NY), 1967.

(With others) Yuli Daniel, This Is Moscow Speaking, Harvill (London, England), 1968.

Anatoli Rybakov, Heavy Sand, Viking (New York, NY), 1981.

Roy Medvedev, All Stalin's Men, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984.

Roy Medvedev, China and the Superpowers, Basil Blackwell (New York, NY), 1986.

Anatoli Rybakov, Children of the Arbat, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1988.

Andrei Gromyko, Memoirs, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1989.

(And editor) Dmitri Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(And editor) Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin: A New Biography, Free Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(And editor) Dmitri Volkogonov, Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary, Free Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(And editor) Dmitri Volkogonov, Autopsy for an Empire: The Seven Leaders Who Built the Soviet Regime, Free Press (New York, NY), 1998.


Harold Shukman is a scholar of Russian history, chiefly concerned with the twentieth century. His work includes histories of the Bolshevik revolution, encyclopedias, and especially translations of noted Russian historians and fiction writers. In a Russian Review consideration of Shukman's The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Russian Revolution, Donald J. Raleigh praised the work for its "high quality" and noted that it "deserves recognition precisely because it meets the need for a general reference work of high quality on the revolution." Much the same could be said for the rest of Shukman's books, which bear in mind both scholarly aims and general interest.

Shukman has also been recognized for his translations of biographies by the late Colonel-General Dmitri Volkogonov, a Russian military historian who, as a government archivist, had unprecedented access to top-secret documents from the regimes of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky. Shukman's translations offer to English-speaking readers "provocative [works] for the specialist as well as many a casual student of world affairs," to quote New Leader contributor Anatole Shub. In a Tribune Books review of Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary, Mark Kramer wrote that Shukman "has done an admirable job of preserving the elegance and detail of the original Russian version while eliminating many (though not all) of the repetitive passages and digressions. Some minor mistakes arise, but overall the book makes for splendid reading."

Other critics have expressed gratitude for translations of Volkogonov's writings because the Russian author was able to access new information that shed light on the more gruesome aspects of modern Russian history. Kramer, for instance, concluded that Volkogonov's works are "a major step forward in our understanding of … the early years of the Soviet regime…. [He] brings to an American audience the finest reassessments of Soviet history we are likely to have for many years to come."

A later Volkogonov translation is Autopsy for an Empire: The Seven Leaders Who Built the Soviet Regime, in which the lives and careers of the subjects of his previous biographies, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, as well as their successors through Gorbachev, are studied. A great deal of archival material broadens the scope of this work, which examines Soviet relations with China and North Korea and events leading up to the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. In editing the English edition, Shukman has trimmed the number of photographs from 178 to 21. Reviewing the volume in History: Review of New Books, Victor Rosenberg wrote that Shukman "has done a masterly job of selecting, organizing, and making the English text readable."

Shukman is the author of the biography Rasputin, one volume in a Sutton series. Robert Pearce, who reviewed the book for History Review, commented that Shukman "brilliantly" handles Rasputin's murder by poison, shooting, and drowning, called the book "engaging and entertaining," and wrote that it explains everything the student needs to know "about this often misunderstood figure."

Shukman wrote Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War with Geoffrey Elliott. It is a fascinating account of the Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL), which was in existence from 1951 to 1960. Most of the students were in the national service, and most of the teachers were immigrants to England from Europe and Russia. The students were taught fluent Russian, often at universities in London or Cambridge, as well as the Russian way of looking at life, holding a cigarette, and turning a phrase, all in preparation for the possibility that they would be put into service posing as Russians. The authors are unable to reveal the details of those who were called upon, but they do note that the JSSL trained a bishop, many professors, and a head of the Bank of England. Those who were not called upon went about living normal lives, except when some have been occasionally asked to help by using their knowledge of Russian. The authors were students of the JSSL. Elliott made his fortune as an investment banker and retired to Bermuda, where the local police did call on him to help solve a crime involving the Russian police. Adding to the value of this volume are contributions by friends who are also graduates of the JSSL. Paul Dukes noted in History Today: "This remarkable memory combines with the historical expertise of Harold Shukman to produce an account evocative enough for recommendation to all JSSL graduates, while at least some of the pen portraits, anecdotes and analysis of the broader intelligence context will surely have wider appeal."

In War or Revolution: Russian Jews and Conscription in Britain, 1917, Shukman examines the plight of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants who were faced with joining the British army during World War I or returning to Russia and an uncertain fate. Shukman has a personal interest in this history, as his own father and an uncle chose to return to Russia and were among the few who eventually returned to England.

Shukman once told CA: "The accident of having Yiddish-speaking Russian parents was responsible for my being propelled into Russian studies in general and aspects of Russian-Jewish history in particular. Otherwise I might have remained in a career with a future—electronics. However, the discovery of the French and Italian languages in 1950-51, coupled with eruption of late adolescent sensuality, diverted me into the vain search for a profession offering culture, luxury, wealth, and ego gratification. An Oxfordian enjoys only one of these all the time, and at most two some of the time."



Association of Jewish Refugees Journal, November, 2006, Howard Spier, review of War or Revolution: Russian Jews and Conscription in Britain, 1917.

Booklist, February 15, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of Autopsy for an Empire: The Seven Leaders Who Built the Soviet Regime, p. 976.

Contemporary Review, June, 2002, review of Stalin and the Soviet-Finnish War, 1939-1940, p. 380.

Historian, spring, 2000, Jacob W. Kipp, review of Autopsy for an Empire, p. 702.

History Review, December, 1999, Robert Pearce, review of Rasputin, p. 48.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 1998, Victor Rosenberg, review of Autopsy for an Empire, p. 36.

History Today, November, 2001, Anne Pointer, review of Stalin and the Soviet-Finnish War, 1939-1940, p. 59; April, 2003, Paul Dukes, review of Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War, p. 56.

Library Journal, April 1, 1998, Robert Johnston, review of Autopsy for an Empire, p. 108.

Liverpool Daily Post, July 29, 2006, David Charters, review of War or Revolution.

New Leader, December 19, 1994, Anatole Shub, review of Lenin: A New Biography, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, February 2, 1998, review of Autopsy for an Empire, p. 72.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of War or Revolution.

Russian Review, July, 1990, Donald J. Raleigh, review of The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Russian Revolution, pp. 351-352.

Spectator, February 22, 2003, M.R.D. Foot, review of Secret Classrooms, p. 36.

Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 2003, M.F. Burnyeat, review of Secret Classrooms, p. 29; January 12, 2007, Eliane Glaser, review of War or Revolution.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 19, 1996, Mark Kramer, review of Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary, pp. 1, 9.


St. Antony's College, University of Oxford Web site, (January 16, 2008), profile.