Carr was best known for his 14-volume history of the Soviet Union, in which he provided an account of Soviet history from 1917 to 1929, for his writings on international relations, and for his book What Is History?, in which he laid out historiographical principles rejecting traditional historical methods and practices.
Educated at Cambridge, Carr began his career as a diplomat in 1916. Becoming increasingly preoccupied with the study of international relations and of the Soviet Union, he resigned from the Foreign Office in 1936 to begin an academic career. From 1941 to 1946, Carr worked as an assistant editor at The Times, where he was noted for his leaders (editorials) urging a socialist system and an Anglo-Soviet alliance as the basis of a post-war order. Afterwards, Carr worked on a massive 14-volume work on Soviet history entitled A History of Soviet Russia, a project that he was still engaged on at the time of his death in 1982. In 1961, he delivered the G. M. Trevelyan lectures at the University of Cambridge that became the basis of his book, What is History? Moving increasingly towards the left throughout his career, Carr saw his role as the theorist who would work out the basis of a new international order.
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