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Issue Details: First known date: 2024... 2024 Beyond the Red Shoe: Searching for Mrs Petrov
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description


'A fictionalised account of the Petrov Affair begins with its most famous incident.
This occurred on the tarmac of Sydney’s Mascot airport on 19 April 1954:

Evdokia knew this crowd was here for her. They were hunting her. They were here to prevent her escaping through the terminal, onto the plane ... Her escorts had revolvers in their jackets. If it was Moscow’s instruction, they’d do away with her here ... She could not believe it, the number of people, the lights, the shadows ... Evdokia wanted to stop. She wanted to stop and turn and run. Zharkov at her elbow, insisting otherwise ... The crowd thought the men were dragging her, pushing her, physically compelling her to move. They swept towards them, shouting, appealing.

'This retelling barely approximates what happened on that dramatic evening. Certainly,
the iconic photograph (see Figure 1) capturing a vulnerable and anguished woman,
missing one shoe, being escorted by burly Soviet couriers towards the Moscow-
bound plane, has entered our historical memory. But, as to be expected, there is
a disjuncture between historical imagination and the archival record. The drama
of this event overshadows the complexity of negotiations and tactics used when the
plane reached Darwin. The truth of what happened then, behind the scenes, is still
opaque. A similar issue lies at the heart of our search for the truth about Evdokia
Petrov. We began with the intention of a conventional biographical portrait—one that
extended, but was still consistent with, previous studies. Instead, what we discovered
was that, in investigating the dialogue between truth and illusion, we entered a world
of deception and dissembling from which we emerged more uncertain than ever. This
article, then, is an exercise in biography as frustration. In part it is an exploration of
what is known about Evdokia. In tracing her history through her own words, through
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), government and newspaper
reports, through oral history and through secondary studies, we highlight the ways
in which elements of her story unravel. We argue that there can be no certainty in its
retelling. Evdokia Petrov’s words and her portrayal by contemporaries demonstrate
that any attempt at biography is plagued by ambiguity.' 

(Introduction)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Journal of Biography and History no. 8 2024 27802981 2024 periodical issue 'The Australian Journal of Biography and History (AJBH) was established in 2018
    with the principal aim of promoting the study of historical biography. In her
    2023 book Biography: An Historiography, Melanie Nolan, currently director of
    the National Centre of Biography, situates biography as integral to the practice
    of history, a discipline that stresses the role of the individual rather than focusing
    solely on the structures constraining human agency.1 Consistent with this objective,
    the AJBH publishes lively, appealing and provocative articles that ‘engage critically
    with issues and problems in historiography and life writing’ as well as illuminating
    themes in Australian history.2 Since 2018, the journal has fulfilled its charter with
    three general numbers emanating from a call for papers and four special themed
    issues: Number 2, 2019, Canberra Lives (edited by Malcolm Allbrook); Number 5,
    2021, Political Biography (edited by Stephen Wilks and Joshua Black); Number 6,
    2022, Writing Slavery into Biography (edited by Georgina Arnott, Zoë Laidlaw and
    Jane Lydon), and Number 7, 2023, Convict Lives (edited by Matthew Cunneen and
    Malcolm Allbrook).' (Malcolm Allbrook: Introduction)
    2024
Last amended 2 Apr 2024 11:04:03
Subjects:
  • Document Z Andrew Croome , 2008 single work novel
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