Riddle, Mystery and Enigma

by David Owen

‘Any book on Anglo-Russian relations by our finest living foreign secretary would be interesting enough, but one written with verve and insight by so fine an historian as Lord Owen marks a major publishing event. As well as understanding the distant past, Owen weaves in the near-past – such as his own protest against the Soviet invasion of Hungary of 1956 – and takes us up to the present day with the noble heroism of Alexei Navalny. Thoughtfulness, learning and sound judgement infuse every page.’
Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

‘All my adult life, it seems, I have been learning from David Owen. His new book is the latest example, allying his striking qualities of independence of mind and originality with his solid body of knowledge.’
Daniel Finkelstein


Includes updated chapters on Putin’s Russia and the future of British-Russian relations after the Russo-Ukrainian War

Britain’s relationship with Russia is surprisingly under-explored. When the two formed a pragmatic alliance and fought together at Navarino in 1827, it was overwhelmingly the work of the British prime minister, George Canning.

It was not until the 1917 revolution that another statesman had a defining impact on relations between Britain and Russia: Winston Churchill opposed Bolshevism, yet he never stopped advocating diplomatic and military engagement with Russia.

Bringing us into the twenty-first century, Owen chronicles how both countries have responded to their geopolitical decline. Drawing on imperial and Soviet history, he explains the unique nature of Putin’s autocracy and addresses Britain’s return to ‘blue water’ diplomacy. Written with Owen’s characteristic insight and wide-ranging expertise, Riddle, Mystery and Enigma depicts a relationship governed by principle as often as by suspicion, expediency, and outright necessity.

DAVID OWEN served as foreign secretary under James Callaghan from 1977 until 1979, and later co-founded and went on to lead the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He is the author of boosk including The Hidden Perspective (2014) and Cabinet’s Finest Hour (2016).

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£12.99