Antony Beevor is one of the greatest living military history writers. He was born in 1946 and has a background as an officer in the British Army.
He began his writing career with a number of novels before turning to historical works. His most famous works cover the Battle of Stalingrad, the Final Battle of Berlin, the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.
In his latest book “Russia” he depicts the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War.
Antony Beevor is married to author Artemis Cooper. They have two children, Nella and Adam.
“Russia” is the book military historian Antony Beevor always wanted to write. In it, the beleaguered author describes what he and other historians call “the suicide of Europe” – and the beginning of the tragedy that has been Russia’s history for the past 100 years.
“This is the origin story itself,” he says.
Antony Beevor made the point just before the latest act in the tragedy began: Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine. At the same time, Beevor was diagnosed with spinal cord cancer.
— It is an incurable variant, but it can be treated. So it’s not a death sentence in the way it once was. I am currently undergoing chemotherapy and am doing relatively well.
Putin = Hitler
The British author is on a small tour to talk about his book. On the same day that he landed in Sweden, the news came that Russia was facing a “partial mobilization” with immediate effect.
— I don’t worry about that. Russia does not have weapons for 300,000 new soldiers. They don’t even have uniforms for that many.
Antony Beevor doesn’t mince words when talking about President Putin. He calls him “mentally unstable” and likens him to Hitler.
— But if Putin is murdered, someone in his circle will take his place. Either someone who is at least as bad as him, or even worse.
The Russians fear civil war
Antony Beevor is opposed to drawing historical parallels. Likewise, he is of the opinion that history never repeats itself. He considers it not very likely that President Putin, like Tsar Nicholas II, would be overthrown, that today’s Russian citizens would make a revolution and that Russia would be thrown into a new civil war.
— If there is something that Russians fear, it is civil war. That’s why so many Russians cried when Stalin died. They wept for fear that there would be another bloody civil war.
The Russian Civil War is the worst war he has written about. And yet he has written books about the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. But the testimonies of ruthless inhumanity from the war between tsarists and Bolsheviks simply take the prize.
— If I have to describe it with one word, the word is horror.
The snake island can be wiped out
That Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not gone as Putin intended does not surprise Antony Beevor. The idea of Russia’s strong and highly developed army rests, according to Beevor, on memories of the superior Red Army that the world saw at the end of World War II.
— What Russia has to offer today in terms of weaponry is not enough for anything other than to roll onto Red Square once a year. A war between NATO and Russia would be quickly overrun.
Antony Beever believes that the next few months will be eventful and in some sense decisive for the future. He does not take Putin’s nuclear threat as lightly as some leaders in the West.
— A demonstration of some kind by Russia is not entirely unthinkable. It could be wiping out Ormön or some other place that has become symbolic of Ukraine’s resistance.
— But the Chinese wouldn’t like that.
Division in the West
What happens now, Antony Beevor believes, depends on what will be Ukraine’s and President Zelenskyi’s next move. Going in to take back Crimea, which Zelensky seems to have decided to do, could turn things around – and possibly end the war.
— Crimea is a symbol of Russia that goes all the way back to the days of Catherine the Great. If Putin thinks that Russia can lose the Crimean Peninsula, it could be something for Ukraine to bargain with and that will be the solution. But in such cases it is one or more years ahead.
Antony Beevor was a young officer stationed in Germany during the Cold War and what we are seeing now he believes is the prelude to a new one. It’s cold and getting colder every day. Autumn is already here and the author has caught a cold. We are facing a cold winter that many fear.
– We will probably see a split in the West. Frontline countries like Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will not give in. But countries like Germany, France, Italy will probably do it when the energy crisis becomes apparent. But I don’t think it changes that much. The most important thing is that the frontline countries and the US stand firm and continue to support Ukraine.