Acerbic, prodigious and oftentimes controversial, historian Norman Stone was, for much of the late twentieth-century, one of the most recognisable public faces of British academia. A precocious student with an early aptitude for languages, Stone read History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and after graduating travelled widely in Eastern Europe and across the Soviet Union. He established his reputation with his first book, The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 - a revisionist history of Russia’s defeat in the First World War - which won the 1976 Wolfson Prize for history. By the late 1970’s, he was in post as a Fellow of Trinity College, under the mentorship of the noted historian E.H. Carr, publishing work on Hitler and establishing a formidable reputation before moving to take up a chair at Oxford.
In the 1980’s, Stone’s expertise on Communism and Soviet politics led to him becoming a face on British television and writing regular columns for British broadsheets where he became famous for his controversial views and a refusal to mince his words. His later career was marred by rumours of affairs, excessive drinking and a disdain for the talents of his students and his academic reputation suffered as a result. His later works included Hungary: A Short History as well as World War One: A Short History and World War Two: A Short History. He died, aged 78, in 2019.