(p. A7) Mr. Conquest’s master work, “The Great Terror,” was the first detailed account of the Stalinist purges from 1937 to 1939. He estimated that under Stalin, 20 million people perished from famines, Soviet labor camps and executions–a toll that eclipsed that of the Holocaust. Writing at the height of the Cold War in 1968, when sources about the Soviet Union were scarce, Mr. Conquest was vilified by leftists who said he exaggerated the number of victims. When the Cold War ended and archives in Moscow were thrown open, his estimates proved high but more accurate than those of his critics.
. . .
Though Mr. Conquest’s body count was on the high end of estimates, he remained unwavering at the publication of “The Great Terror: A Reassessment,” a 1990 revision of his masterwork. When Mr. Conquest was asked for a new title for the updated book, his friend, the writer Kingsley Amis, proposed, “I Told You So, You F–ing Fools.”
. . .
He was also an enthusiastic crafter of limericks, a form in which his irreverence and flair for language flourished. One version of an often-quoted one reads:
There was a great Marxist named Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
–That’s a lot to have done in,
But where he did one in
That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.
For the full obituary, see:
BRENDA CRONIN and ALAN CULLISON. “Historian Exposed Stalin’s Reign of Terror.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Aug. 5, 2015): A7.
(Note: ellipses added; italics in original.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Aug. 4, 2015, and has the title “Robert Conquest, Seminal Historian of Soviet Misrule, Dies at 98.”)
The revised edition of Conquest’s master work, is:
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror: A Reassessment. 40th Anniversary ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2007.