Orlando Guy Figes (/ˈfɪdʒɪz/ (born 20 November 1959) is a British historian and writer known for his works on Russian and European history. He is professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Figes is best known for his works on Russian history, such as A People's Tragedy (1996), Natasha's Dance (2002), The Whisperers (2007), Crimea (2010) and Just Send Me Word (2012). A People's Tragedy is a study of the Russian Revolution, and combines social and political history with biographical details in a historical narrative.
Figes was the historical consultant on the 2012 film Anna Karenina and also worked as the historical consultant on the 2016 BBC War & Peace television series directed by Tom Harper with a screenplay by Andrew Davies.
Figes serves on the editorial board of the journal Russian History, writes for the international press, broadcasts on television and radio, reviews for the New York Review of Books, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His books have been translated into over thirty languages 
Born in Islington, north London, Figes is the son of John George Figes and the feminist writer Eva Figes who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. He attended William Ellis School in north London (1971–78) and studied History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, graduating with a double-starred first in 1982. He completed his PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a fellow and lecturer in history from 1984 to 1999 before he succeeded Richard J. Evans as professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Figes is married to human rights lawyer Stephanie Palmer, a senior lecturer in law at Cambridge University and barrister at Blackstone Chambers London. They have two daughters, Lydia and Alice. He lives in London and is a supporter of Chelsea Football Club. His elder sister is the author and editor Kate Figes.
In an interview with Andrew Marr in 1997, Figes described himself as "a Labour Party supporter and 'a bit of a Tony Blair man', though he confessed, when it came to the revolution, to being mildly pro-Menshevik." 
He divides his time between his homes in London and Umbria in Italy.
Figes's first three books were on the Russian Revolution and the Civil War. Peasant Russia, Civil War (1989) was a detailed study of the peasantry in the Volga region during the Revolution and the Civil War (1917–21). Using village Soviet archives, Figes emphasised the autonomous nature of the agrarian revolution during 1917–18, showing how it developed according to traditional peasant notions of social justice independently of the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks or other urban-based parties. He also demonstrated how the function of the rural Soviets was transformed in the course of the Civil War as they were taken over by younger and more literate peasants and migrant townsmen, many of them veterans of the First World War or Red Army soldiers, who became the rural bureaucrats of the emerging Bolshevik regime.
A People's Tragedy (1996) is a panoramic history of the Revolution from 1891 to the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924. It combines social and political history and interweaves through the public narrative the personal stories of several representative figures, including Grigory Rasputin, the writer Maxim Gorky, Prince Georgy Lvov and General Alexei Brusilov, as well as unknown peasants and workers. Figes wrote that he had "tried to present the revolution not as a march of abstract social forces and ideologies but as a human event of complicated individual tragedies". Left-wing critics have represented Figes as a conservative because of his negative assessment of Lenin and his focus on the individual and "the random succession of chance events" rather than on the collective actions of the masses. Others have situated Figes among the so-called 'revisionist' historians of the Revolution who attempted to explain its political development in terms of social history. In 2008, the Times Literary Supplement listed A People's Tragedy as one of the "hundred most influential books since the war". In 2013 David Bowie named A People's Tragedy one of his 'top 100 books'.
Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language and Symbols of 1917 (1999), co-written with Boris Kolonitskii, analyses the political language, revolutionary songs, visual symbols and historical ideas that animated the revolutionary crowds of 1917.
Revolutionary Russia: 1891–1991, is a short introduction to the subject published as part of the relaunch of Pelican Books in the United Kingdom in 2014. In it Figes argues for the need to see the Russian Revolution in a longer time-frame than most historians have allowed. He states that his aim is 'to chart one hundred years of history as a single revolutionary cycle. In this telling the Revolution starts in the nineteenth century (and more specifically in 1891, when the public’s reaction to the famine crisis set it for the first time on a collision course with the autocracy) and ends with the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991.'
Published in 2002, Natasha's Dance is a broad cultural history of Russia from the building of St. Petersburg during the reign of Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century. Taking its title from a scene in Tolstoy's War and Peace, where the young countess Natasha Rostova intuitively dances a peasant dance, it explores the tensions between the European and folk elements of Russian culture, and examines how the myth of the "Russian soul" and the idea of "Russianness" itself have been expressed by Russian writers, artists, composers and philosophers.
The film director Joe Wright revealed that Natasha's Dance was the inspiration for his 2012 film Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. Figes is credited as the historical consultant on the film
Figes has also written essays on various Russian cultural figures, including Leo Tolstoy, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev and Andrei Platonov. In 2003 he wrote and presented a TV feature documentary for the BBC, The Tsar's Last Picture Show, about the pioneering colour photographer in Tsarist Russia Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky.
His book The Whisperers followed the approach of oral history. In partnership with the Memorial Society, a human rights non-profit, Figes gathered several hundred private family archives from homes across Russia and carried out more than a thousand interviews with survivors as well as perpetrators of the Stalinist repressions. Housed in the Memorial Society in Moscow, St Petersburg and Perm, many of these valuable research materials are available online.
Translated into more than twenty languages, The Whisperers was described by Andrey Kurkov as "one of the best literary monuments to the Soviet people" In it Figes underlined the importance of oral testimonies for the recovery of the history of repression in the former Soviet Union. While conceding that, "like all memory, the testimony given in an interview is unreliable", he said that oral testimony "can be cross-examined and tested against other evidence".
The Whisperers deals mainly with the impact of repression on the private life. It examines the influence of the Soviet regime and its campaigns of Terror on family relationships, emotions and beliefs, moral choices, issues of personal and social identity, and collective memory. According to Figes, 'the real power and lasting legacy of the Stalinist system were neither in structures of the state, nor in the cult of the leader, but, as the Russian historian Mikhail Gefter once remarked, "in the Stalinism that entered into all of us".'
The Whisperers includes a detailed study of the Soviet writer Konstantin Simonov, who became a leading figure in the Soviet Writers' Union and a propagandist in the "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign during Stalin's final years. Figes drew on the closed sections of Simonov's archive in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art and on the archives of the poet's wife and son to produce his study of this major Soviet establishment figure.
Published in 2012, Just Send Me Word is a true story based on 1,246 letters smuggled in and out of the Pechora labour camp between 1946 and 1955 between Lev Mishchenko (a prisoner) and Svetlana Ivanova (his girlfriend in Moscow). There are 647 letters from Lev to Svetlana, and 599 from her to him. They form part of a family archive discovered by the Memorial Society and delivered in three trunks to their Moscow offices in 2007. The letters are the largest known collection of private correspondence from the Gulag, according to Memorial.
Figes was given exclusive access to the letters and other parts of the archive, which is also based on interviews with the couple when they were in their nineties, and the archives of the labour camp itself. Figes raised the finance for the transcription of the letters, which are housed in the Memorial Society in Moscow and will become available to researchers in 2013. According to Figes, "Lev's letters are the only major real-time record of daily life in the Gulag that has ever come to light."
The book tells the story of Lev and Svetlana who met as students in the Physics Faculty of Moscow University in 1935. Separated by the Second World War in 1941, when Lev was enrolled in the Red Army, they made contact in 1946, when he wrote from Pechora. Figes uses the letters to explore conditions in the labour camp and to tell the love story, ending in 1955 with Lev's release and marriage to Svetlana. The book documents five illegal trips made by Svetlana to visit Lev by smuggling herself into the labour camp.
The title of the book is taken from the poem "In Dream" by Anna Akhmatova, translated by D.M. Thomas: "Black and enduring separation/I share equally with you/Why weep? Give me your hand/Promise to appear in a dream again./You and I are like two mountains/And in this world we cannot meet./Just send me word/At midnight sometime through the stars."
Writing in the Financial Times, Simon Sebag Montefiore called Just Send Me Word "a unique contribution to Gulag scholarship as well as a study of the universal power of love". Several reviewers highlighted the book's literary qualities, pointing out that it 'reads like a novel'
Just Send Me Word has been translated into German, French, Italian,Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Swedish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
Crimea: The Last Crusade is a panoramic history of the Crimean War of 1853–56. Drawing extensively from Russian, French and Ottoman as well as British archives, it combines military, diplomatic, political and cultural history, examining how the war left a lasting mark on the national consciousness of Britain, France, Russia and Turkey. Figes sets the war in the context of the Eastern Question, the diplomatic and political problems caused by the decay of the Ottoman Empire. In particular, he emphasises the importance of the religious struggle between Russia as the defender of the Orthodox and France as the protector of the Catholics in the Ottoman Empire. He frames the war within a longer history of religious conflict between Christians and Muslims in the Balkans, southern Russia and the Caucasus that continues to this day. Figes stresses the religious motive of the Tsar Nicholas I in his bold decision to go to war, arguing that Nicholas was swayed by the ideas of the Pan-Slavs to invade Moldavia and Wallachia and encourage Slav revolts against the Ottomans, despite his earlier adherence to the Legitimist principles of the Holy Alliance. He also shows how France and Britain were drawn into the war by popular ideas of Russophobia that swept across Europe in the wake of the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848. As one reviewer wrote, Figes shows "how the cold war of the Soviet era froze over fundamental fault lines that had opened up in the 19th century."
Figes has been critical of the Vladimir Putin government, in particular allegations that Putin has attempted to rehabilitate Joseph Stalin and impose his own agenda on history-teaching in Russian schools and universities. He is involved in an international summer school for history teachers in Russian universities organised by the European University of St Petersburg.
On 4 December 2008, the St Petersburg offices of the Memorial Society were raided by the police. The entire electronic archive of Memorial in St Petersburg, including the materials collected with Figes for The Whisperers, was confiscated by the authorities. Figes condemned the police raid, accusing the Russian authorities of trying to rehabilitate the Stalinist regime. Figes organised an open protest letter to President Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian leaders, which was signed by several hundred leading academics from across the world. After several court hearings, the materials were finally returned to Memorial in May 2009.
In December 2013, Figes wrote a long piece in the US journal Foreign Affairs on the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kiev suggesting that a referendum on Ukraine's foreign policy and the country's possible partition might be a preferable alternative to the possibility of civil war and military intervention by Russia.
Figes has contributed frequently to radio and television broadcasts in the United Kingdom and around the world. In 1999 he wrote a six-part educational TV series on the history of Communism under the title Red Chapters. Produced by Opus Television and broadcast in the UK, the 25-minute films featured turning-points in the history of Soviet Russia, China, and Cuba. In 2003 he wrote and presented a TV feature documentary for the BBC, The Tsar's Last Picture Show, about the pioneering colour photographer in Russia Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky. In 2007 he wrote and presented two 60-minute Archive Hour programmes on radio entitled Stalin's Silent People which used recordings from his oral history project with Memorial that formed the basis of his book The Whisperers. The programmes are available on Figes's website.
He was the historical consultant on the 2012 film Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard and is also credited as the historical consultant on the 2016 BBC War & Peace television series directed by Tom Harper with a screenplay by Andrew Davies. Interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph, Figes defended the series against criticism that it was 'too Jane Austen' and 'too English'.
Figes' The Whisperers was adapted and performed by Rupert Wickham as Stalin's Favourite. Based on Figes' portrayal of the writer Konstantin Simonov, the play was performed in the National Theatre in London followed by a season of performances at the Unicorn Theatre in London.
In 2010, Figes posted several pseudonymous reviews on the UK site of the online bookseller Amazon where he criticised books by two other British historians of Russia, Robert Service and Rachel Polonsky, whilst praising other works. Initially denying responsibility for the reviews, he threatened legal action against those who suggested he was their author. Figes' lawyer later issued a statement that Figes' wife had written the reviews, but in a further statement Figes admitted "full responsibility" for the reviews himself, agreeing to pay legal costs and damages to Polonsky and Service, who sued him for libel.
A People's Tragedy was awarded the Wolfson History Prize, the WH Smith Literary Award, the NCR Book Award, the Longman-History Today Book Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Natasha's Dance and The Whisperers were both short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize, making Figes the only writer to have been short-listed twice for this prize. The Whisperers was also short-listed for the Ondaatje Prize, the Prix Médicis, and the Premio Roma.
A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891–1924 is an award-winning book written by British historian Orlando Figes and published in 1996.Battle of Inkerman
The Battle of Inkerman was fought during the Crimean War on 5 November 1854 between the allied armies of Britain, France and Ottoman Empire against the Imperial Russian Army. The battle broke the will of the Russian Army to defeat the allies in the field, and was followed by the Siege of Sevastopol. The role of troops fighting mostly on their own initiative due to the foggy conditions during the battle has earned the engagement the name "The Soldier's Battle".Battle of the Alma
The Battle of the Alma was a battle in the Crimean War between an allied expeditionary force (made up of French, British, and Turkish forces) and Russian forces defending the Crimean Peninsula on 20 September 1854. The allies had made a surprise landing in Crimea on 14 September. The allied commanders, Maréchal Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud and Lord FitzRoy Somerset Raglan, then marched toward the strategically important port city of Sevastapol, 45 km (28 mi) away. Russian commander Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov rushed his available forces to the last natural defensive position before the city, the Alma Heights, south of the Alma River.
The allies made a series of disjointed attacks. The French turned the Russian left flank with an attack up cliffs that the Russians had considered unscalable. The British initially waited to see the outcome of the French attack, then twice unsuccessfully assaulted the Russians' main position on their right. Eventually, superior British rifle fire forced the Russians to retreat. With both flanks turned, the Russian position collapsed and they fled. The lack of cavalry meant that little pursuit occurred.
The battle cost the French roughly 1,600 casualties, the British 2,000, and the Russians some 5,000.Committees of Poor Peasants
In Soviet-ruled Russia the Bolshevik authorities established Committees of Poor Peasants (Russian: Комитеты Бедноты, komitety bednoty or Russian: комбеды, kombedy, commonly rendered in English as kombeds) during the second half of 1918 as local institutions bringing together impoverished peasants to advance government policy. The committees had as their primary task grain requisitioning on behalf of the Soviet state; they also distributed manufactured goods in rural areas.Expansionism
In expansionism, governments and states expand their territory, power, wealth or influence through economic growth, soft power, or the military aggression of empire-building and colonialism.
Anarchism, reunification or pan-nationalism are sometimes used to justify and legitimize expansionism, but only when the explicit goal is to reconquer territories that have been lost, or to take over ancestral lands.Expropriation
The process of expropriation "occurs when a public agency (for example, the provincial government and its agencies, regional districts, municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions and utilities) takes private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest". Unlike eminent domain, expropriation may also refer to the taking of private property by a private entity authorized by a government to take property in certain situations.
Due to political risks that are involved when countries engage in international business it is important to understand the expropriation risks and laws within each of the countries that business is conducted in order to understand the risks as an investor in that country.Fedor Linde
Fedor Fedorovich Linde (Russian: Фёдор Фёдорович Линде; German: Friedrich Linde; 1881 – 21 August 1917 near Lutsk) was a Russian revolutionary sergeant and army commissar. He played an 'unsung but crucial role' in turning the tide of the February Revolution, in words of historian Orlando Figes.He was a sergeant in the Finland Regiment of St. Petersburg. For his role in leading a demonstration against Milyukov he was sent as a commissar to the army on the front by the Soviet. Here he became well known for convincing revolutionary units to continue fighting. He was killed trying to convince a group of soldiers to return to combat near Lutsk in 1917, and was hailed as a 'fallen fighter of the people's cause', receiving a hero's funeral.Figes (surname)
The surname Figes may refer to:
Craig Figes British water polo player
Eva Figes, English author
Kevin Figes, British musician
Orlando Figes, British historian and authorKalamita Bay
The Kalamita Bay (Russian: Каламитский залив, Ukrainian: Каламітська затока, Crimean Tatar: Kalamita körfezi, Каламита корьфези), also known as Gulf of Kalamita, is a bay and a gulf in the Black Sea south of Yevpatoria, Crimea. Kalamita was likewise a name used for Inkerman.Kamiesch
Kamiesch is a sea inlet and adjoining port, sited on the Chersonese or Khersones peninsula, three miles SW of the city centre of Sevastopol and ten miles WNW of Balaklava in the Crimean peninsula. During the Crimean war, French invading forces used the bay as their main port and supply base. The area is now part of the Gagarinsky district of Sevastopol.Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a Ghanaian-born British actor known for his film, television, theatre, and voice work.Orlando (given name)
Orlando is a masculine given name, the Italian form of the given name Roland. People with the name include:
Orlando Baccino (born 1970), Argentine judoka
Orlando Bloom (born 1977), British actor
Orlando Bosch (1926–2011), Cuban exile militant and anti-Castro terrorist
Orlando Bridgeman (disambiguation)
Orlando Brown (actor) (born 1987), American actor
Orlando Brown Jr. (born 1996), American football player
Orlando Cabrera (born 1974), Colombian baseball player
Orlando Canizales (born 1965), American boxer and International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion
Orlando Catinchi (born 1957), Puerto Rican breaststroke swimmer
Orlando P. Carvalho American business executive
Orlando Cepeda (born 1937), Puerto Rican baseball player
Orlando Clark (born 2002),
Orlando Cornejo (1929–2015), Chilean politician
Orlando dos Santos Costa (born 1981), Brazilian footballer
Orlando Engelaar (born 1979), Dutch footballer
Orlando Figes (born 1959), British historian of Russia
Orlando Jacinto Garcia (born 1954), Cuban-born American composer
Orlando Luis Garcia (born 1952), United States district court judge
Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625), English composer
Orlando Gutiérrez (born 1976), Spanish footballer known as Orlando
Orlando Hernández (born 1965), Cuban-born American baseball player
Orlando Hudson (born 1977), American baseball player
Orlando Jones (born 1968), American comedian and actor
Orlando Jordan (born 1980), American professional wrestler
Orlande de Lassus (1530 or 1532–1594), Franco-Flemish composer also known as Orlando di Lasso
Orlando Letelier (1932–1976), Chilean economist, politician and diplomat
Orlando Martins (1899–1985), Nigerian film and stage actor
Orlando Merced (born 1966), Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball player
Orlando Pace (born 1975), American National Football League player
Orlando Palmeiro (born 1969), former Major League Baseball player
Orlando Peçanha de Carvalho (1935–2010), Brazilian football defender known as Orlando
Orlando Peña (born 1933), Cuban former Major League Baseball pitcher
Orlando Metcalfe Poe (1832–1895), Union Army general and engineer in the American Civil War
Orlando M. Pilchard, nom de plume of Nick Pelling (born 1964), British computer programmer
Orlando Pizzolato (born 1958), Italian long-distance runner
Orlando Quintana (born 1978), Spanish football goalkeeper
Orlando Reeves, eponym of Orlando, Florida
Orlando Serrell (born 1968), American savant
Orlando Smeekes (born 1981), Curaçaoan footballer
Orlando Smith (born 1944), Premier of the British Virgin Islands
Orlando Tubby Smith (born 1951), college basketball coach
Orlando Vásquez (born 1969), Nicaraguan weightlifter
Orlando Ward (1891–1972), American major general
Orlando Woolridge (1959–2012), American National Basketball Association player
Orlando Zapata (1967–2010), Cuban human rights activistPavel Milyukov
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov (Russian: Па́вел Никола́евич Милюко́в, IPA: [mʲɪlʲʊˈkof]; 27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1859 – 31 March 1943) was a Russian historian and liberal politician. Milyukov was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party (known as the Kadets). In the Russian Provisional Government, he served as Foreign Minister, working to prevent Russia's exit from the First World War.Personifications of Russia
Since medieval times personifications of Russia are traditionally feminine, and most commonly are maternal.
Most common terms for national personification of Russia are:
Mother Russia (Russian: Матушка Россия, tr. Matushka Rossiya, "Mother Russia"; also, Россия-матушка, tr. Rossiya-matushka, "Russian Mother", Мать-Россия, tr. Mat'-Rossiya, Матушка Русь, tr. Matushka Rus' , "Mother Rus' "),
Mother Motherland (Russian: Родина-мать, tr. Rodina-mat' ).Notice that in the Russian language, the concept of motherland is rendered by two terms: "родина" (tr. rodina), literally, "place of birth" and "отчизна" (tr. otchizna), literally "fatherland".
Harald Haarmann and Orlando Figes see the goddess Mokosh a source of the "Mother Russia" concept.Rosemary Hill
Rosemary Hill (born 10 April 1957) is an English writer and historian.Russian Constituent Assembly
The All Russian Constituent Assembly (Всероссийское Учредительное собрание, Vserossiyskoye Uchreditelnoye sobraniye) was a constitutional body convened in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917. It met for 13 hours, from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m., 18–19 January [O.S. 5–6 January] 1918, whereupon it was dissolved by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, making the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets the new governing body of Russia.Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55)
The Siege of Sevastopol (at the time called in English the Siege of Sebastopol) lasted from October 1854 until September 1855, during the Crimean War. The allies (French, Ottoman, and British) landed at Eupatoria on 14 September 1854, intending to make a triumphal march to Sevastopol, the capital of the Crimea, with 50,000 men. The 56-kilometre (35 mi) traverse took a year of fighting against the Russians. Major battles along the way were Alma (September 1854), Balaklava (October 1854), Inkerman (November 1854), Tchernaya (August 1855), Redan (September 1855), and, finally, Sevastopol (September 1855). During the siege, the allied navy undertook six bombardments of the capital, on 17 October 1854; and on 9 April, 6 June, 17 June, 17 August, and 5 September 1855.
Sevastopol is one of the classic sieges of all time. The city of Sevastopol was the home of the Tsar's Black Sea Fleet, which threatened the Mediterranean. The Russian field army withdrew before the allies could encircle it. The siege was the culminating struggle for the strategic Russian port in 1854–55 and was the final episode in the Crimean War.
During the Victorian Era, these battles were repeatedly memorialized. The Siege of Sevastopol was the subject of Crimean soldier Leo Tolstoy's Sebastopol Sketches and the subject of the first Russian feature film, Defence of Sevastopol. The Battle of Balaklava was made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and Robert Gibb's painting The Thin Red Line. A panorama of the siege itself was painted by Franz Roubaud.
The Jamaican and English nurses who treated the wounded during these battles were much celebrated, most famously Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale.Sockpuppet (Internet)
A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization, to manipulate public opinion, or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Sockpuppets are unwelcome in many online communities and may be blocked.
Winners of the Wolfson History Prize