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The opening line in most obituaries of Robert Conquest, who died on August the third, described him as a “historian and poet.” That would be a capacious enough description for most men of letters. In Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love, Charon keeps A. E. Housman waiting on the banks of the River Styx for a second arrival since he is expecting two people, “a poet and a scholar,” until Housman says shyly: “I think that must be me.” In Bob’s case Charon would have been waiting for a historian, a poet, a...