John Simkin's blog - latest post

Why we will never discover who killed John F. Kennedy.

During my research I read a book that I found disturbing. The book was E. H. Carr's What Is History? (1961). Carr addresses the problem of the politically motivated historian. He points out that the historian is likely to only write about subjects he/she cares about. In the words of another historian, W. H. B. Court: “History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire laboriously into something which they set no value upon.”


Heritage Explorer
  • Spartacus on Facebook
  • Follow @JohnSimkin on Twitter
  • Spartacus Google+ Circles
John Simkin

In September, 1997, Spartacus Educational founder and managing director John Simkin became the first educational publisher in Britain to establish a website that was willing to provide teachers and students with free educational materials.

According to a survey carried out by the Fischer Trust, Spartacus Educational is one of the top three websites used by history teachers and students in Britain (the other two are BBC History and the Public Record Office’s Learning Curve). The Spartacus Educational website currently gets up to 7 million page impressions a month and 3 million unique visitors.

As well as running the Spartacus Educational website John Simkin has also produced material for the Electronic Telegraph, the European Virtual School and the Guardian's educational website, Learn. He was also a member of the European History E-Learning Project (E-Help), a project to encourage and improve use of ICT and the internet in classrooms across the continent.

We have published six e-books, Charles Dickens: A Biography (October, 2012), First World War Encyclopedia (October, 2012), Assassination of John F. Kennedy Encyclopedia (November, 2012), Gandhi: A Biography (December, 2012), The Spanish Civil War (December, 2012) and The American Civil War (December, 2012). He also contributed an article to the recently published book, Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History (December, 2012).

Arthur Ransome
Arthur Ransome

Arthur Ransome first met Evgenia Shelepina when he interviewed Leon Trotsky on 28th December 1917. Shelepina was Trotsky's secretary. Ransome fell in love with Shelepina and the two became lovers. Ransome's biographer, Roland Chambers, has pointed out: "Over forty years later, Ransome remembered the decisive moment at which he realized he was in love: a mixture of terror and relief over which he had no power whatsoever. But as he snatched his future wife from beneath the wheels of history - the war, the Revolution, the fatal passage of circumstance which Lenin had declared indifferent to the fate of any single individual - the possibility of separating his private from his professional affairs remained as remote as ever."

Ransome's article on Trotsky appeared in the Daily News on 31st December, 1917. "In an anteroom one of Mr Trotsky's secretaries, a young officer, told me Mr Trotsky was expecting me. Going into an inner room, unfurnished except for a writing table, two chairs and a telephone, I found the man who, in the name of the Proletariat, is practically the dictator of all Russia. He has a striking head, a very broad, high forehead above lively eyes, a fine cut nose and a small cavalier beard. Though I had heard him speak before, this was the first time I had seen him face to face. I got an impression of extreme efficiency and definite purpose. In spite of all that is said against him by his enemies, I do not think that he is a man to do anything except from a conviction that it is the best thing to be done for the revolutionary cause that is in his heart. He showed considerable knowledge of English politics."


Nadezhda Plevitskaya
Nadezhda Plevitskaya

During the First World War Nadezhda Plevitskaya appeared in several films. She also married again but he was killed on the Eastern Front in January 1915. After the Russian Revolution she became a Bolshevik and sang for the soldiers of the Red Army.

In 1919 she was captured by Lieutenant-General Nikolai Skoblin, an officer of the White Army. Skoblin had a reputation for killing his prisoners but Plevitskaya's life was spared. Skoblin fell in love with Plevitskaya and despite their different political beliefs they married after the defeat of the anti-Bolshevist forces in the Russian Civil War.

The couple moved to Paris and Skoblin joined the Russian All-Military Union (ROVS). The organization attempted to start a national anti-communist uprising in Russia. Skoblin became the organization's intelligence chief. Plevitskaya made concert tours throughout Europe and on her visit to the United States she was accompanied by Sergei Rachmaninoff. However, she retained her belief in communism and in 1925 she and her husband, were recruited as a spy by Mikhail Shpiegelglass, a senior figure in the NKVD.

In December 1936, Nikolai Yezhov established a new section of the NKVD named the Administration of Special Tasks (AST). It contained about 300 of his own trusted men from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Yezhov's intention was complete control of the NKVD by using men who could be expected to carry out sensitive assignments without any reservations.


First World War | Second World War | The Tudors | British History | Vietnam War | Military History | Watergate | Assassination of JFK | Assocation Football | Normans | American West | Famous Crimes | Black People in Britain | The Monarchy | Blitz | United States | Cold War | English Civil War | Making of the United Kingdom | Russia | Germany | The Medieval World | Nazi Germany | American Civil War | Spanish Civil War | Civil Rights Movement | McCarthyism | Slavery | Child Labour | Women's Suffrage | Parliamentary Reform | Railways | Trade Unions | Textile Industry | Russian Revolution | Travel Guide | Spartacus Blog | Winston Churchill | John F. Kennedy | Lyndon B. Johnson | Robert F. Kennedy | Queen Victoria | J. Edgar Hoove | Ku Klux Klan  Martin Luther King | Adolf Hitler | Joseph Stalin | Jim Crow Laws Benito Mussolini | Franklin D. Roosevelt | Abraham Lincoln | Lee Harvey Oswald