Poison pen reviews were mine, confesses historian Orlando Figes

Historians in the News

After threatening colleagues, literary journals and newspapers with legal action last week, Orlando Figes has revealed this morning that it was not his wife who anonymously rubbished fellow historians in comments on Amazon: it was him.

In a statement released to the Daily Mail the professor of history at London's Birkbeck College said that he takes "full responsibility" for what he called "foolish errors".

The story began when historians began to notice a series of reviews on the shopping site which praised Figes's own books and attacked those of his colleagues. Comments posted under the alias "orlando-birkbeck" and "Historian" called Rachel Polonsky's book Molotov's Magic Lantern "hard to follow" and Robert Service's history of communism, Comrades, "awful", while praising Figes's study of Soviet family life, The Whisperers as "a fascinating book ... [that] leaves the reader awed, humbled, yet uplifted".

According to a diary column in the TLS, after Service raised the matter with his colleagues in an email early last week he received first an email from Figes, suggesting that the two could "mend their relations", and then a letter from Figes's lawyer, David Price, suggesting that "the originator" of the story about Amazon reviews "ie you, is liable for republications by the media"....
Read entire article at Guardian (UK)

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