Robert Conquest, Being “Non-Judgmental,” and Jihadism


Ukraine’s Medal of Iaroslav Mudryi (grand prince of Kiev, from 1019 to 1054) bestowed on Hoover research fellow Robert Conquest (center) by Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, June, 2006


Robert Conquest, from the Preface to the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Great Terror, September, 2007, p. xxiv, his seminal indictment of Soviet Communist state tyranny under Stalin, observed:


One of the strangest notions put forward about Stalinism [substitute Jihadism] is that, in the interests of “objectivity” we must be—wait for it—“non-judgmental.” But to ignore, or downplay, the realities of Soviet [substitute Islamic] history is itself a judgment, and a very misleading one. Let me conclude with Patrick Henry saying in 1775, “I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” The corollary is that misreading of the past incapacitates us as regards our understanding of the future—and of the present too.


I have indicated above, in brackets, where one could readily substitute Jihadism for Stalinism, and Islamic for Soviet.


This past August, in commemoration of Solzhenitsyn’s passing, Roger Kimball described the following anecdote related by Kingsley Amis, about the reception of Professor Conquest’s landmark study, which “for many years,” was “ignored where possible or dismissed as propaganda.” As Amis notes,


Then, in 1988, favourable references to it began to appear in the Soviet media. . . . [A]n American publisher suggested a new edition of the book.


“What about a new title Bob? We won’t pretend it’s a new book , but a new title would be good. . . .


Bob answered in terms that get a lot of his character into small compass. “Well, perhaps, I Told You So, You Fucking Fools. How’s that?”


We are in crying need of Conquest’s intellectual courage, and brutal honesty when it comes to addressing the contemporary scourge of resurgent Jihadism.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at

3 responses to “Robert Conquest, Being “Non-Judgmental,” and Jihadism

  1. I am Ukrainian, and Prof. Conquest has been unwavering in his pursuit of the truth vis-a-vis the Ukrainian famine. Truly a gift to mankind.

  2. Robert Conquest would help the world enormously if he and/or his students could write the history of jihad in the same objective and incontrovertable way that he wrote “The Great Terror”.

    The 270 million dead victims of Islamic jihad…the Tears of Jihad…need to be counted.

    Otherwise, we have learned nothing about this death cult. These victims will have died un recognized by history and unmourned!

    Shame on us!

  3. I must say, Dr. Bostom, I cannot believe, someone else knows of Conquest. I learned about him several years ago from a colleague of his when I wound up interviewing this man, then, actually, studying with him. That generation was exceptional despite its mistakes and misjudgments,
    which were considerable. What is so very, very sad is the current crop never learned from those mistakes, nor has the public. What in the world would the current public have said if they knew
    what really happened in WWII? The numbers of casualties in any given battle? How ill-equipped the troops were when sent overseas?That the Battle of the Bulge was preventable? Or that the US was warned about Korea and China, and we need not have fought that action? That the Communists had infiltrated SE Asia by the end of WWII? What would England have thought about the fact that it was a Jewish Brigade from Palestine that, finally, turned the tide for the British in North Africa?It was only due to their participation and heroism that the British, who had been consistently loosing to Rommel, were able to win? They volunteered, because they were promised by the British it would help secure a State for the Jews.
    Thank you for bringing up Robert Conquest.