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Moscow Calling

Biography, Politics & Current Affairs
Publication Date
04 October 2018
Paperback (also available as an eBook)
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
16pp colour plates

Moscow Calling

Memoirs of a Foreign Correspondent
by Angus Roxburgh - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore

'This fascinating and compellingly intelligent memoir of a foreign correspondent ... informed by love of the country and its people, is written with style, panache and wry humour' – Saltire Society Non-Fiction Book of the Year judging panel (Shortlisted)

In the course of the past 45 years, Angus Roxburgh has translated Tolstoy, met four successive Russian presidents and been jinxed by a Siberian shaman. He has come under fire in war zones and been arrested by Chechen thugs. He was wooed by the KGB, who then decided he would make a lousy spy and expelled him from the country. In Moscow Calling Roxburgh presents his Russia – not the Russia of news reports, but a quirky, crazy, exasperating, beautiful, tumultuous world that in forty years has changed completely, and yet not at all.

From the dark, fearful days of communism and his adventures as a correspondent as the Soviet Union collapsed into chaos, to his frustrating work as a media consultant in Putin’s Kremlin, this is a unique, fascinating and often hilarious insight into a country that today, more than ever, is of global political significance.


'an absolutely magnificent book ... I haven't read any book that so perfectly captures the atmosphere of life in the Soviet Union/Russia' – Michael Binyon, former Times Diplomatic Correspondant 

'These memoirs show us the understanding, empathy and the compassion that underpinned the knowledge and authority of Roxburgh’s reporting. A gripping story, scintillatingly told. Essential reading for any young person thinking of a career in the media. It will have you laughing out loud in places, move you close to tears in others' – Scotsman

'If you want a good, enthralling memoir of the great, raging days of turmoil in Russia and the USSR, as witnessed and recorded by an honest man, this is the one to read' – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

'Nobody has a better ear for Russia than Angus Roxburgh – a joy to read, often very funny, often profoundly sad, and in both respects a good reflection of the Russian experience’ – Justin Webb, Today programme (BBC)

‘Roxburgh writes beautifully, with a lyricism and descriptive touch beyond ordinary reportage and that any serious novelist would be proud of. Those looking for the memoirs of a foreign correspondent will find them in this book. But what they will find too is an elegy to Russia, by someone deeply etched by its influence and its continuing presence in his life’ – David Pratt, Herald

'A self-critical author writing his memoirs sounds like a contradiction in terms. Angus Roxburgh, though, has produced a book that illuminates discerningly the dramatic changes that have occurred in Russia over the past 40 years, many of which he witnessed at first hand. His account is often amusing, sometimes grim (when he recalls his experience reporting wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan), but consistently perceptive' – Archie Brown, Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, in History Today

‘If you are looking for the Russia beyond the political cliché then this is the book for you. An intimate and incisive account of a famous journalist’s long-term relationship with the country, a relationship as complex and intense as any Russian novel’ – Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible

'A wonderful take on the Russian experience, a fascinating overview of the relationship between the UK and Russia, and a brilliant portrait of old-school newspaper reporting' – Viv Groskop, BBC Radio 4

'Moscow Calling is at least two books in one – a memoir if those first years in Moscow, and a wider-focused story about covering one of the twentieth century’s biggest stories: the sudden decline and fall of the Soviet Union. The threading together of his Russian friendships and the times they’ve all lived through give the book its greatest strength' – Scottish Review of Books

Angus Roxburgh studied Russian and German at Aberdeen University. A distinguished journalist and broadcaster, he was Sunday Times Moscow correspondent (1987-89), BBC Moscow correspondent (1991-97) and BBC Europe correspondent (1998-2005). From 2006- 2009 he was media consultant to the Kremlin, and is now a freelance writer and journalist. He is the author of the acclaimed The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia and was consultant on the award-winning BBC documentaries, The Second Russian Revolution, and Putin, Russia and the West.

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