There are rules for writing about the enemy in wartime. You must never forget that your side and his are at war, and that your side is right and his is wrong. Your writing must not give aid or comfort to the enemy. It should never humanise the other side but rather emphasise its essential, evil otherness. Overt partisanship is not just allowed in time of war but required. Even-handedness, if you choose to write about the enemy, would amount to treason.

Whether the same rules applied to writing about the Soviet Union during the Cold War (which after all was a war of words even if guns weren’t involved) became a big issue in Sovietology in the 1970s. There were young people like me who had recently come into the academic field and thought they should be able to write about the Soviet Union the way they wrote about everything else – that is, as objectively as they could. And there were people like Robert Conquest, a quarter-century older, formed in different intellectual and political circumstances, who thought the opposite.