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Sockpuppet update: Figes confesses

Posted by Christopher Shea  April 27, 2010 12:00 PM

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It turns out that the noted historian of Russia Orlando Figes did write those savage reviews of his rivals' books after all (not his wife, which was the first "admission" after a period of flat denial): Figes confessed a few days ago:

"I take full responsibility for posting anonymous reviews on Amazon," he said. "I am ashamed of my behaviour and don't entirely understand why I acted as I did." He pleaded for time to reflect on his actions "with medical help."

Figes evidently cited a "very deep depression" that he has endured since publishing his book on Stalinism, "The Whisperers."

Rachel Polonsky, one of the targets of Figes's anonymous attacks--she had beat him out for a prestigious literary prize--tells her side of the story, not without a touch of melodrama, in the Daily Mail. ("How I Rumbled the Lying Professor.") A taste:

The stakes could not have been higher. Like Figes, Bob [historian Robert Service] and I knew exactly who Historian [Figes's online sock-puppet] was, but unless we could prove it, Bob and his wife Adele stood to lose everything if it progressed as far as a libel suit.

Adele and I are scared out of our wits,' he told me that night. 'I can't leave her without a home.' ... Fire must be fought with fire.

I contacted Nigel Tait of libel lawyers Carter-Ruck, softly spoken but with a fearsome reputation...

All of this over anonymous Amazon reviews.

She rumbled the "lying professor"
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