Portrait of Dr Philip Boobbyer

Dr Philip Boobbyer



Philip Boobbyer read Modern Languages at Trinity College Cambridge (1982-86), before doing an MA in Russian Areas Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC (1986-88), and a PhD in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics (1989-1992). After temporary appointments at the University of Westminster and the LSE, he came to the University of Kent in 1995. He is currently the School of History's Director of Graduate Studies.

Research interests

Much of Philip's work has been on Russian intellectual history. His first book, S. L.Frank: The Life and Work of a Russian Philosopher 1877-1950 (1995) was a biography of one of Russia's most important religious philosophers. He then wrote a textbook, The Stalin Era (2000). This was followed by Conscience, Dissent and Reform in Soviet Russia (2005), a study of the ethical thinking of Soviet dissidents and Communist Party reformers in the late Soviet era. More recently, his book The Spiritual Vision of Frank Buchman (2013) is a study of an American religious leader who was well known for his legacy in the field of reconciliation and interfaith dialogue. 

Philip is currently involved in an initiative to publish the correspondence of S. L.Frank with the Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger. He is also working on a book about Francis Rodd (Lord Rennell) 1895-1978, a geographer who became Chief Civil Affairs Officer of AMGOT (Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories) in 1943. 


Philip teaches on revolutionary Europe, Russia 1881-1945, the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, and Soviet propaganda. He has an interactive approach to teaching in which students are encouraged to contribute to seminars as much as possible.  


Philip is interested in supervising research students in modern political, religious and intellectual history.


Showing 50 of 53 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Boobbyer, P. (2018). Lord Rennell, Chief of AMGOT: A Study of His Approach to Politics and Military Government (c.1940–43). War in History [Online] 25:304-327. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344516671737.
    Following Operation Husky in 1943, Francis Rodd, Lord Rennell (1895–1978) was Chief Civil Affairs Officer of AMGOT (Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories) in Sicily and
    Southern Italy. He had previously held important posts in civil affairs in Africa. This article examines his approach to politics and military government, with particular reference to his
    support for ‘indirect rule’. This doctrine helped rationalize the fact that British/Allied military rule often rested on a small number of staff. Rennell’s thoughts on AMGOT’s administrative
    structures are also covered. A geographer and banker by background, Rennell emerges here as a reform-minded pragmatist.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2017). What eastern bloc dissidents can teach us about “Living in Truth.” The Conversation [Online]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/what-eastern-bloc-dissidents-can-teach-us-about-living-in-truth-75356.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2015). A Russian Version of Christian Realism: Spiritual Wisdom and Politics in the Thought of S.L.Frank (1877-1950). International History Review [Online] 38:45-65. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2015.1005114.
    Christian realism is a concept normally associated with the US theologian and ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr. However, Niebuhr was not alone in warning Christians of the dangers of utopianism and trying to promote a religiously inspired political realism; thinkers from a number of countries had similar aspirations. In this context, the Russian philosopher Semyon Liudvigovich Frank (1877–1950) deserves particular attention. A Marxist in his youth, Frank became disillusioned with revolutionary ideas before and after the 1905 revolution, and was drawn away from politics to philosophy. However, he remained interested in political questions, both while he was in Russia and after he was forced into exile in 1922. This found expression in the 1940s in a form of Christian realism. Frank rejected the doctrine ‘the end justifies the means.’ But he was a gradualist in his approach to social change, believing that politicians needed to have a pragmatic attitude of mind. A distinctive feature of Frank's approach was the connection he made between spiritual inwardness on the one hand and effective decision-making on the other, although he also saw spirituality as arising in a social context. Ultimately, there was a mystical dimension to Frank's Christian realism that was absent in Niebuhr's doctrine.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2014). Andrei Nikolaevich Mironov: Russian Human Rights Campaigner and Translator. The Independent [Online]:0-0. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/andrei-mironov-russian-human-rights-campaigner-and-translator-who-was-a-political-prisoner-during-9563464.html.
    Andrei Mironov: Russian human-rights campaigner and translator who was a political prisoner during the Soviet era
  • Boobbyer, P. (2013). Professor Dallas Willard, ‘Philosopher who championed the cause of evangelicalism’. The Independent [Online]:45-45. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/professor-dallas-willard-philosopher-who-championed-the-cause-of-evangelicalism-8735565.html.
    People have more control over their feelings than is often realised, he believed
  • Boobbyer, P. (2012). A More Realistic Vision of Russia’s Greatness. Moscow Times [Online]:0-0. Available at: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/a-more-realistic-vision-of-russias-greatness/452261.html.
    Also appeared in Vedomosti on 5 December 2012
  • Boobbyer, P. (2011). Purity, Freedom and the Imagination. Change for Better 1:68-72.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2010). B.H.Streeter and the Oxford Group. Journal of Ecclesiastical History [Online] 61:541-567. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022046908005939.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2009). Prophets who saw through Lenin. The Church Times:19-20.
    The publication of the book Landmarks in 1909 was one of the great scandals of Russian intellectual history. Written in the aftermath of the failure of the 1905 revolution, it was a collection of seven essays accusing the Russian intelligentsia of a misplaced enthusiasm for revolution, and a tendency to fanaticism.

    This was also published in Entrepreneurship Insights e-bulletin in Issue 13, May 2011 published by the Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2009). Vladimir Bukovskii and Soviet Communism. Slavonic and East European Review 87:452-487.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2009). Faith for an Ideological Age: The Moral and Religious Ideas of Semyon Frank and Frank Buchman. Journal of Eastern Christian Studies [Online] 61:265-287. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2143/JECS.61.3.2046975.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2006). Stalin’s Terror. New perspective 12:16-19.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2006). Answering Dresden’s Call. For a Change 19:4-6.
    Philip Boobbyer discovers how the rebuilding of an historic German church, destroyed by British bombers during World War II, is healing old wounds.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2006). R.C.Mowat – Prophetic historian. The Independent [Online]:45-45. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/r-c-mowat-6101292.html.
    Robert Case Mowat, historian: born Oxford 11 May 1913; married 1942 Renée Sutton (one son, three daughters, and one son deceased); died Oxford 1 April 2006.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2005). Crisis of Civilisation in Europe. For a Change 18:20-21.
    Philip Boobbyer discusses two books which challenge the secularism of modern Europe.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2005). The Cold War in the Plays of Peter Howard. Contemporary British History [Online] 19:205-222. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13619460500080256.
    Peter Howard was the worldwide leader of the Moral Re-Armament movement from 1961-65. After 1945 Moral Re-Armament sought to express traditional religious ideas in the idiom of the post-war world, and it made much use of theatre. This article explores Howard's ideas with particular references to his plays. Howard saw the Cold War from a spiritual perspective. In his view, the roots of political conflict were often to be found in dishonest relationships and moral compromises in the lives of individuals, as well as in a refusal to follow God's will. This applied to people both in the East and the West. Howard thus believed that both sides in the Cold War faced a common need for spiritual renewal. In this sense, Howard's interpretation of the East-West conflict was not of a Manichaean form; although committed to Western democratic principles, he did not believe that good and evil could be simply identified with the policies or actions of the different sides. In his view, everybody and every nation needed to turn to God and absolute moral standards as a way out of the global impasse.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2002). Moral Judgements and Moral Realism in History. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions [Online] 3:83-112. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/714005478.
    The issue of whether historians should make moral judgements is always controversial. In recent years, there has been a division between those who argue that the primary aim of historians should be to understand the past and that moral judgements should be avoided, and those who maintain that moral judgements are still in a certain sense appropriate. The overall thrust of this article is to argue that these two tendencies in reality coincide: understanding and judgement cannot be abstractly separated. The article also explores the related, but further point that many historians are moral realists: they believe that certain moral facts are natural facts independently of whether people believe them to be true or not. This moral realism is rooted in a variety of world-views, religious and secular. With particular reference to Nazism and Stalinism, and to such figures as Adolf Eichmann, Albert Speer, Nikolai Bukharin and Richard Nixon, this article argues that there is a widespread assumption among historians that the moral state of societies and individuals is a legitimate aspect of historical enquiry. Herbert Butterfield and Hannah Arendt are amongst the many scholars whose work is discussed. The article concludes by saying that history is in a certain sense a moral discipline in that it requires of historians a high level of self-knowledge and self-discipline, if they are to write good history.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2002). Dreams, reality and the price of dreaming: Reflections on Russia’s troubled transition to democracy. Aktual’nye problemy Evropy:293-307.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2000). Truth-telling, conscience and dissent in late Soviet Russia: Evidence from oral histories. European History Quarterly [Online] 30:553-585. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/026569140003000404.
    To succeed in Soviet society, it was necessary to speak in politically correct terms. The system had its rituals and 'rules of the game'. Yet in the Brezhnev era, intellectuals started to challenge the official propaganda, and a culture emerged which emphasized the importance of 'truth-telling'. This article explores this culture through oral history. Based on forty-one interviews with dissidents and reformist intellectuals, it shows how the consciences of dissidents were formed in Soviet Russia, and gives examples of the strategies which were adopted to avoid lying and breaking free of fear. Behind the Soviet state's broader relationship with the intelligentsia, it conducted a more intimate negotiation with the conscience of each individual. In each person's life, there was a kind of moral contract with the state, and its terms were continually changing. Even the smallest things could be considered acts of dissent if the circumstances were comprehended. The potential for the outburst of 'truth-telling' which took place under Gorbachev is very evident.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2000). Dreams, reality and the price of dreaming: Reflections on Russia’s troubled transition to democracy. The Way 40:7-18.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1999). Religious Experiences of the Soviet Dissidents. Religion, State and Society [Online] 27:373-390. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/096374999106557.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1993). The Two Democracies: Semen Frank’s Interpretation of the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Revolutionary Russia [Online] 6:193-209. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09546549308575604.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1993). The Moral Lessons of Soviet History: the Experience of Opposition to Evil. Religion, State and Society [Online] 21:355-361. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09637499308431609.


  • Boobbyer, P. (2013). The Spiritual Vision of Frank Buchman. [Online]. The Pennsylvania State University Press. Available at: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-05979-2.html.
    The Spiritual Vision of Frank Buchman is an in-depth look at the life, spirituality, and ideology of one of the most original figures in twentieth-century religion. Frank Buchman (1878–1961), the Pennsylvania-born initiator of the movement known as the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament, was a Lutheran pastor who first had influence as a college evangelist and missionary with the YMCA. His thinking then evolved during the 1930s, the Second World War, and the early Cold War as he tried to develop a world philosophy that could offer an answer to war and materialism. His impact was particularly felt in the areas of conflict resolution between nations and interfaith dialogue, and Alcoholics Anonymous also owed much to his methods. Philip Boobbyer’s book is the first scholarly overview of Buchman’s ideas and is an important addition to the growing corpus of academic literature on his worldwide outreach. Boobbyer shows how his work reflected broader processes in twentieth-century religion and politics and can be seen as a spiritual response to an emerging global society.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2005). Conscience, Dissent and Reform in Soviet Russia. London: Routledge.
    This book examines the ethical paradigm shift that took place in Soviet Russia after 1953, making special reference to the idea of a consciencea. After exploring the history of the idea of conscience before the revolution and in the early decades of Soviet rule, as well as under Khrushchev, it focuses on the moral ideas of dissidents and party reformers. It examines the ethics of the human rights movement and the way in which dissident ethics were shaped by experiences of imprisonment and interrogation. It goes on to explore the idea of conscience in late Soviet literature and philosophy, the enduring influence of Russian Orthodox spirituality in Soviet life, the ethics of party leaders such as Gorbachev and Yakovlev and the moral concerns of the intelligentsia and the emerging democratic movement.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2001). S.L.Frank: Zhizn’ I Tvorchestvo S.L.Franka. ROSSPEN.
    Imya Semena Lyudvigovicha Franka - odnogo iz velichayshih russkih filosofov - do sih por malo izvestno na rodine. Eta kniga, vpervye izdannaya v SShA v 1995 g., predstavlyaet soboy popytku napisat sereznuyu istoricheskuyu biografiyu S.L.Franka, poznakomit sovremennogo chitatelya, kak s ego ideyami, tak i s ego zhiznyu. V podhode avtora k biografii filosofa tsentralnuyu rol igraet ubezhdenie, chto filosofiya i opyt nerazdelimy i, sledovatelno, chtoby ponyat Franka, nuzhno znat ego zhizn. Krome togo, v knige znachitelnoe vnimanie udeleno druzhbe S.L.Franka s P.B.Struve i shveytsarskim psihologom L.Binsvangerom, otnosheniyam s zhenoy Tatyanoy Sergeevnoy. Avtor takzhe podcherkivaet gumanisticheskoe znachenie ne tolko filosofskih, no i sotsialno-politicheskih idey Franka, ego `hristianskogo realizma`.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2000). The Stalin Era. London: Routledge.
    This book provides a wide-ranging history of every aspect of Stalin's dictatorship over the peoples of the Soviet Union. Drawing upon a huge array of primary and secondary sources, The Stalin Era is a first-hand account of Stalinist thought, policy and their effects. It places the man and his ideology into context both within pre-Revolutionary Russia, Lenin's Soviet Union and post-Stalinist Russia. The Stalin Era examines:
    * collectivisation
    * industrialisation
    * terror
    * government
    * the Cult of Stalin
    * education and Science
    * family
    * religion: The Russian Orthodox Church
    * art and the state
  • Boobbyer, P. (1995). S.L.Frank: The Life and Work of a Russian Philosopher, 1877-1950. Ohio University Press.
    "There are many reasons for writing a biography of Semyon Frank. Quite apart from his philosophy, he lived a remarkable life. Born in Moscow in 1877, he was exiled from Soviet Russia in 1922 and died in London in 1950. The son of a Jewish doctor, he became a revolutionary Social Democrat in his teens and finished his life as a Neoplatonist Christian. One of the Russian revisionist Marxists, he was then involved in the Kadet Party during the 1905 revolution before breaking with active political activity and turning to philosophy. He lived in Petrograd through the First World War until September 1917, after which he went to Saratov, where he experienced the chaos of the Russian Civil War. Living in Germany after his exile, he witnessed the rise of Hitler in Berlin, left for France in a hurry in 1937, and spent part of the war hiding from the Gestapo in the Grenoble mountains. It was a life that encompassed a lot of history. "Yet along with this, Frank was arguably Russia's greatest twentieth-century philosopher. Indeed, V.V. Zen'kovskii, the historian of Russian philosophy, considered Frank 'in strength of philosophic vision ... the most outstanding among Russian philosophers generally -- not merely among those who share his ideas.' For its lucidity, conciseness, systematic character, and unity, Zen'kovskii considered Frank's system ' the highest achievement ... of Russian philosophy.' Doubtless, Zen'kovskii's assessment is disputable, but his remarks emphasize Frank's stature in the Russian tradition. In the style of German idealism, Frank constructed a comprehensive philosophical system, which he believed offered a coherent alternative to materialism. He was deeply worried by the implications of epistemological relativism and constructed a system of metaphysics designed to link epistemology and ontology, to bridge the gulf between thought and being. In addition, he attempted to express the idea of a personal God in philosophical language. His system also embraced social philosophy, anthropology, and ethics."-- from the Introduction by the author

Book section

  • Boobbyer, P. (2015). Dukhovnoe nachalo v Khristianskom realizme Semena Franka. In: Samyi Vydaiushchii Russkii filosof’: Filosofiia Religii I Politike S.L.Franka : Sbornik Statei. PSTGU.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2011). Protsess nad Realpolitik: problema tselei i sredstv v sovremennoi Rossii (‘Realpolitik on Trial: The Problem of Ends and Means in Modern Russia’). In: Rossiia Na Rubezhe Vekov. ROSSPEN.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2009). Sravnitel’nyi analiz vozzrenii Semena Franka i Franka Bukmana. In: Ideinoe Nasledie S.F.Franka V Kontekste Sovremennoi kul’tury. Moscow.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2004). Moral Re-Armament in Africa in the Era of Decolonisation. In: Stanley, B. ed. Missions, Nationalism and the End of Empire. Eerdmans, pp. 212-236.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2003). Frank Buchman. In: Larsen, T. ed. Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Inter-Varsity Press.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1998). Russian Liberal Conservatism. In: Hosking, G. and Service, R. eds. Russian Nationalism Past and Present. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 35-54. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780333699959.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1997). Frank, Semen Liudvigovich. In: Shelokhaev, V. V. ed. Russkoe zarubezh’e. Zolotaia Kniga Emigratsii: Pervaya Tret’ XX V. (Russians Abroad. Golden Book of Emigration: The First Third of the XXth Century). ROSSPEN.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1996). The Turbulent Decade: Soviet and Russian Politics, 1985-1995. In: Brivati, B., Buxton, J. and Seldon, A. eds. The Contemporary History Handbook. Manchester University Press, pp. 161-169.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1995). Frank. In: Sto Russkikh Filosofov. Moscow: Mirta.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1994). The Moral Lessons of Soviet History: the Experience of Opposition to Evil. In: Kruglikov, V. A. ed. Kongenial’nost’ Mysli: O Filosofe Merrabe Mamardashvili. Moscow: Gruppa Progress Kultura.

Edited book

  • Boobbyer, P. (2013). Dokumente Briefwechsel Zwischen Simon L.Frank Und Ludwig Binswanger (1934-50): Briefe Aus Den Jahren 1935-1938, Forum für osteuropäische Ideen – Und Zeitgeschichte. Boobbyer, P. ed. Böhlau.


  • Boobbyer, P. (2019). Book review: Beyond the Monastery Walls: The Ascetic Revolution in Russian Orthodox Thought, 1814–1914. By Patrick Lally Michelson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2017. The Journal of Modern History [Online] 91:237-238. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1086/701575.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2007). The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov. Slavonic and East European Review [Online] 85:168-169. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4214415.
  • Boobbyer, P. (2007). Review of Leslie Chamberlain, The Philosophy Steamboat: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia; S.L.Frank, Saratovsii text; Paul Gundersen, Paul Nicolay of Monrepos: A European with a difference. Kritika 8:897-903.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1999). Alleged Sex and Threatened Violence: Doctor Russel, Bishop Vladimir, and the Russians in San Francisco, 1887-1892. Slavonic and East European Review [Online] 77:529-530. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4212913.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1999). The Cross and the Sickle: Sergei Bulgakov and the Fate of Russian Religious Philosophy. Journal of Modern History [Online] 71:255-257. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/235241.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1998). Paul Milyukov and the quest for a liberal Russia, 1880-1918. Slavonic and East European Review [Online] 76:352-353. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4212651.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1997). Democracy or theocracy: Frank, Struve, Berdjaev, Bulgakov, and the 1905 Russian revolution. Slavonic and East European Review [Online] 75:748-749. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4212523.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1997). Russia: A return to imperialism?. International Affairs [Online] 73:188-189. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2623600.
  • Boobbyer, P. (1996). The Politics of Religion in Russia and the New States of Eurasia. International Affairs [Online] 72:408-409. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2624427.


  • Farley, J. (2016). Constructing A New Citizen: The Use of Model Workers in ’New China’ 1949-1965.
    Having suffered a 'century of humiliation,' a ruinous war with Japan and a highly divisive civil war, China was looking for answers to the problems that had plagued it prior to the Revolution. Politicians, philosophers and film directors of the 1940s had played a key role in identifying exactly what the social problems facing China were. Following the Revolution in 1949 the newly victorious Communist Party of China would show the country what the solutions were.
    Whilst Mao's desire to reconstruct Chinese culture has been well documented, less attention has been given to the way in which propaganda was used in a highly integrated way to present this message to the people through a variety of different mediums. This thesis focuses on the use of specific 'Model Workers' to identify and examine the way in which poster propaganda and the cinema were used to further the Party's goals of national unity, cultural reform and the construction of a socialist state prior to the start of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s.
  • Bensley, M. (2014). Socialism in One Country: A Study of Pragmatism and Ideology in the Soviet 1920s.
    The period which existed between the establishment of the Bolshevik-led Republic in 1917 and Stalin's assumption of complete power in the late 1920s has been a focus of historical interest for decades. In this time the Soviet narrative began and what was once the Bolshevik dream would become twisted by events, bureaucracy, and personalities. The task of applying Marxian socialism to the Russia of 1917 would involve a colossal undertaking. Russia was a vast nation which contained a largely peasant population and, by contrast, a small and underdeveloped working class. The belief that Russia could be the first to try to build socialism, a path more befitting the industrialised west, inexorably led to a great many difficulties.
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