Whanganuilibrary.com
Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Iron curtain : The crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 / Anne Applebaum.

By: Applebaum, Anne, 1964-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Allen Lane : [distributor] Penguin Books Ltd : [distributor] United Book Distributors : [distributor] United Book Distributors : [distributor] Booksite Afrika : [distributor] Allen Lane, 2012Description: 656 pages : illustrations, maps, . ; 24x16x4 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780713998689 (hbk.) :; 0713998687 (hbk.) :.Subject(s): Communism -- History -- 20th century -- Europe, Eastern | European history -- c 1945 to c 1960 -- Eastern Europe | Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000 -- c 1945 to c 1960 -- Eastern Europe | History | European history -- Europe, Eastern -- Later 20th century c 1950 to c 1999 -- c 1950 to c 1959 | Europe, Eastern -- Social conditions -- 20th century | Europe, Eastern -- History -- 1945- | Soviet Union -- History -- 1925-1953 | Europe, Eastern -- History -- 1945-DDC classification: 947.0009044 Summary: Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected to recover the lives they had led before 1939. This book explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War. From Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Gulag", comes a major new work of historical and moral reckoning: the story of life behind the "Iron Curtain". Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected to recover the lives they had led before 1939. Instead, they found themselves subjected to a tyranny that was in many ways as inhuman as the one which they had just escaped. This book explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War. Applebaum describes, in calm but devastating detail, how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organisations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were all quickly eviscerated. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the rapid choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate. Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinised. "Iron Curtain" is a brilliant history of a brutal period in European history, but also a reminder of how fragile free societies are, and how vulnerable they can be to the predations of determined and unscrupulous enemies.Review: Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book which effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective and brilliantly researched. -- Antony Beevor Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain [is] certainly the best work of modern history I have ever read. -- A.N. Wilson Financial Times Applebaum's description of this remarkable time is everything a good history book should be: brilliantly and comprehensively researched, beautifully and shockingly told, encyclopedic in scope, meticulous in detail... it is a true masterpiece. -- Keith Lowe Sunday Telegraph In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity... Others have told us of the politics of this time. Applebaum does that but also shows what politics meant to people's lives, in an era when the state did more to shape individual destinies than at any time in history. -- John Connelly Washington Post Iron Curtain is modern history writing at its very best; assiduously researched, it wears its author's considerable erudition lightly. It sets a new benchmark for the study of this vitally important subject. -- Roger Moorhouse Independent on Sunday Anne Applebaum's masterly book gives for the first time, a systematic explanation of the other, largely untold, side of the story... it is a window into a world of lies and evil that we can hardly imagine. -- Edward Lucas Standpoint.
Tags from this library: No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.
Item type Current location Collection Call number Copy number Status Date due
Non-Fiction Davis (Central) Library
Non-Fiction
Non-Fiction 947.0842 APP 1 Available

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system- communism. In Iron Curtain , Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.

Applebaum describes in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organizations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organized, how the media came to be dominated by communists, and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.

Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinized. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization of cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality and strange aesthetics. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal world began, an exceptional work of moral reckoning and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be.

Hardback.

Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected to recover the lives they had led before 1939. This book explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War. From Anne Applebaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Gulag", comes a major new work of historical and moral reckoning: the story of life behind the "Iron Curtain". Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected to recover the lives they had led before 1939. Instead, they found themselves subjected to a tyranny that was in many ways as inhuman as the one which they had just escaped. This book explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War. Applebaum describes, in calm but devastating detail, how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organisations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were all quickly eviscerated. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the rapid choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate. Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinised. "Iron Curtain" is a brilliant history of a brutal period in European history, but also a reminder of how fragile free societies are, and how vulnerable they can be to the predations of determined and unscrupulous enemies.

Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book which effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective and brilliantly researched. -- Antony Beevor Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain [is] certainly the best work of modern history I have ever read. -- A.N. Wilson Financial Times Applebaum's description of this remarkable time is everything a good history book should be: brilliantly and comprehensively researched, beautifully and shockingly told, encyclopedic in scope, meticulous in detail... it is a true masterpiece. -- Keith Lowe Sunday Telegraph In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity... Others have told us of the politics of this time. Applebaum does that but also shows what politics meant to people's lives, in an era when the state did more to shape individual destinies than at any time in history. -- John Connelly Washington Post Iron Curtain is modern history writing at its very best; assiduously researched, it wears its author's considerable erudition lightly. It sets a new benchmark for the study of this vitally important subject. -- Roger Moorhouse Independent on Sunday Anne Applebaum's masterly book gives for the first time, a systematic explanation of the other, largely untold, side of the story... it is a window into a world of lies and evil that we can hardly imagine. -- Edward Lucas Standpoint.

Anne Applebaum is a historian and journalist, a regular columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. She is the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London, and she divides her time between Britain and Poland, where her husband, Radek Sikorski, serves as Foreign Minister.

5 7 11 19 22 27 37 74 76 82 96 111 171

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • A note about abbreviations and acronyms (p. ix)
  • List of illustrations (p. xiii)
  • Maps (p. xv)
  • Introduction (p. xxi)
  • Part 1 False Dawn
  • 1 Zero hour (p. 3)
  • 2 Victors (p. 24)
  • 3 Communists (p. 45)
  • 4 Policemen (p. 68)
  • 5 Violence (p. 94)
  • 6 Ethnic cleansing (p. 124)
  • 7 Youth (p. 158)
  • 8 Radio (p. 186)
  • 9 Politics (p. 205)
  • 10 Economics (p. 238)
  • Part 2 High Stalinism
  • 11 Reactionary enemies (p. 265)
  • 12 Internal enemies (p. 293)
  • 13 Homo sovieticus (p. 319)
  • 14 Socialist realism (p. 352)
  • 15 Ideal cities (p. 384)
  • 16 Reluctant collaborators (p. 410)
  • 17 Passive opponents (p. 438)
  • 18 Revolutions (p. 462)
  • Epilogue (p. 491)
  • List of interviewees (p. 499)
  • Notes (p. 501)
  • Select bibliography (p. 565)
  • Acknowledgements (p. 587)
  • Index (p. 589)

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Chapter 1 Zero Hour The mad orgy of ruins, entangled wires, twisted corpses, dead horses, overturned parts of blown-up bridges, bloody hoofs which had been torn off horses, broken guns, scattered ammunition, chamber pots, rusted washbasins, pieces of straw and entrails of horses floating in muddy pools mixed with blood, cameras, wrecked cars and tank parts: They all bear witness to the awful suffering of a city . . . --Tamás Lossonczy, Budapest, 1945 How can one find words to convey truthfully and accurately the picture of a great capital destroyed almost beyond recognition; of a once almighty nation that ceased to exist; of a conquering people who were so brutally arrogant and so blindingly sure of their mission as a master race . . . whom you now see poking about their ruins, broken, dazed, shivering, hungry human beings without will or purpose or direction. --William Shirer, Berlin, 1945 It seemed to me that I was walking on corpses, that at any moment I would step into a pool of blood. --Janina Godycka-Cwirko, Warsaw, 1945 Explosions echoed throughout the night, and artillery fire could be heard throughout the day. Across Eastern Europe, the noise of falling bombs, rattling machine guns, rolling tanks, churning engines, and ­burning buildings heralded the approach of the Red Army. As the front line drew closer, the ground shook, the walls shivered, the ­children screamed. And then it stopped. The end of the war, wherever and whenever it came, brought with it an abrupt and eerie silence. "The night was far too quiet," wrote one anonymous chronicler of the war's end in Berlin. On the morning of April 27, 1945, she went out of her front door and saw no one: "Not a civilian in sight. The Russians have the streets entirely to themselves. But under every building people are whispering, quaking. Who could ever imagine such a world, hidden here, so frightened, right in the middle of the big city?" On the morning of February 12, 1945, the day the siege of the city came to an end, a Hungarian civil servant heard the same silence on the streets of Budapest. "I got to the Castle District, not a soul anywhere. I walked along Werbõczy Street. Nothing but bodies and ruins, supply carts, and drays . . . I got to Szentháromság Square and decided to look in at the Council in case I found somebody there. Deserted. Everything turned upside down and not a soul . . ." Even Warsaw, a city already destroyed by the time the war ended--the Nazi occupiers had razed it to the ground following the uprising in the autumn--grew silent when the German army finally retreated on January 16, 1945. W³adys³aw Szpilman, one of a tiny handful of people hiding in the ruins of the city, heard the change. "Silence fell," he wrote in his memoir, The Pianist, "a silence such as even Warsaw, a dead city for the last three months, had not known before. I could not even hear the steps of the guards outside the building. I couldn't understand it." The following morning, the silence was broken by a "loud and resonant noise, the last sound I expected": the Red Army had arrived, and loudspeakers were broadcasting, in Polish, the news of the liberation of the city. This was the moment sometimes called zero hour, Stunde Null: the end of the war, the retreat of Germany, the arrival of the Soviet Union, the moment the fighting ended and life started up again. Most histories of the communist takeover of Eastern Europe begin at precisely this moment, and logically so. To those who lived through this change of power, zero hour felt like a turning point: something very concrete came to an end, and something very new began. From now on, many people said to themselves, everything would be different. And it was. Yet although it is logical to begin any history of the communist takeover in Eastern Europe with the end of the war, it is in some ways deeply misleading. The people of the region were not faced with a blank slate in 1944 or 1945, after all, and they were not themselves starting from scratch. Nor did they emerge from nowhere, with no previous experiences, ready to start afresh. Instead, they climbed out of the basements of their destroyed homes, or walked out of the forests where they had been living as partisans, or slipped away from the labor camp where they had been imprisoned, if they were healthy enough, and embarked upon long, complicated journeys back to their homelands. Not all of them even stopped fighting when the Germans surrendered. As they crawled out of the ruins, they saw not virgin territory but destruction. "The war ended the way a passage through a tunnel ends," wrote the Czech memoirist Heda Kovály. "From far away you could see the light ahead, a gleam that kept growing, and its brilliance seemed ever more dazzling to you huddled there in the dark the longer it took to reach it. But when at last the train burst out in the glorious sunshine, all you saw was a wasteland full of weeds and stones, and a heap of garbage." Photographs from across Eastern Europe at that time show scenes from an apocalypse. Flattened cities, acres of rubble, burned villages, and smoking, charred ruins where houses used to be. Tangles of barbed wire, the remains of concentration camps, labor camps, POW camps; barren fields, pockmarked by tank tracks, with no sign of farming, husbandry, or life of any kind. In the recently destroyed cities, the air was suffused with the smell of corpses. "The descriptions I've read always use the phrase 'sweetish odour,' but that's far too vague, completely inadequate," wrote one German survivor. "The fumes are not so much an odour as something firmer, something thicker, a soupy vapor that collects in front of your face and nostrils, too mouldy and thick to breathe. It beats you back as if with fists." Provisional burial sites were everywhere, and people walked through the streets gingerly, as if traversing a cemetery. In due course exhumations began, as bodies were removed from courtyards and city parks to mass graves. Funerals and reburial ceremonies were frequent, though in Warsaw one was famously interrupted. In the summer of 1945, a funeral march was slowly wending its way through Warsaw when the black-clad mourners saw an extraordinary sight: "A living, red Warsaw tram," the first to run through the city since the war's end. "The pedestrians on the sidewalks stopped, others ran alongside the tram clapping and cheering loudly. Extraordinarily, the funeral march stopped too, the mourners accompanying the dead, captivated by the general mood, turned to the tram and began to clap too." This too was typical. At times a weird euphoria seemed to grip the survivors. It was a relief to be alive; sorrow was mixed with joy, and commerce, trade, and reconstruction began immediately, spontaneously. Warsaw in the summer of 1945 was a bustling hive of activity, Stefan Kisielewski wrote: "In the ruins of the streets, there's com­motion like never before. Trade--buzzing. Work--booming. Humor--everywhere. The mob, teeming life, flows through the streets, nobody would think that these are all victims of a massive disaster, people who have scarcely recovered from a catastrophe, or that they are living in extreme, inhuman conditions . . ." Sándor Márai described Budapest in one of his novels at this same period: Whatever remained of the city, of society, sprang to life with such passion, fury, and sheer willpower, with such strength and stamina and cunning, it seemed as if nothing had happened . . . out on the boulevard there were suddenly stalls in gateways, selling all kinds of nice food and luxury items: clothes, shoes, everything you could imagine, not to mention gold napoleons, morphine, and pork lard. The Jews who remained staggered from their yellow star houses and within a week or two you could see them bargaining, surrounded as they were by the corpses of men and horses . . . People were quibbling over prices for warm British cloth, French perfumes, Dutch brandy, and Swiss watches among the rubble . . . This enthusiasm for work and renewal would last for many years. The British sociologist Arthur Marwick once speculated that the experience of national failure might have given the West Germans an incentive to rebuild, to regain a sense of national pride. The very scale of the national collapse, he argued, might have helped contribute to the postwar boom: having experienced economic and personal ­catastrophe, Germans readily threw themselves into reconstruction.14 But Germany, both East and West, was not alone in this drive to recover and to become "normal" again. Over and over, Poles and Hungarians in memoirs and conversations about the postwar period speak of how desperately they sought education, ordinary work, a life without constant violence and disruption. The communist parties were perfectly poised to take advantage of these yearnings for peace. In any case, damage to property was easier to repair than the demographic damage in Eastern Europe, where the scale of violence had been higher than anything known on the western half of the continent. During the war, Eastern Europe had experienced the worst of both Stalin's and Hitler's ideological madness. By 1945, most of the territory between Poznañ in the west and Smolensk in the east had been occupied not once but twice, or even three times. Following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, Hitler had invaded the region from the west, occupying western Poland. Stalin had invaded from the east, occupying eastern Poland, the Baltic States, and Bessarabia. In 1941, Hitler once again invaded these same territories from the west. In 1943, the tide turned again and the Red Army marched back through the same region once more, coming from the east. By 1945, in other words, the lethal armies and vicious secret policemen of not one but two totalitarian states had marched back and forth across the region, each time bringing about profound ethnic and political changes. To take one example, the city of Lwów was occupied twice by the Red Army and once by the Wehrmacht. After the war ended it was called L'viv, not Lwów; it was no longer in eastern Poland but in the western part of Soviet Ukraine; and its Polish and Jewish prewar population had been murdered or deported and replaced by ethnic Ukrainians from the surrounding countryside. Eastern Europe, along with Ukraine and the Baltic States, was also the site of most of the politically motivated killing in Europe. "Hitler and Stalin rose to power in Berlin and Moscow," writes Timothy Snyder in Bloodlands, the definitive history of the mass killing of this period, "but their visions of transformation concerned above all the lands between."15 Stalin and Hitler shared contempt for the very notion of national sovereignty for any of the nations of Eastern Europe, and they jointly strove to eliminate their elites. The Germans considered Slavs to be subhumans, ranked not much higher than Jews, and in the lands between Sachsenhausen and Babi Yar they thought nothing of ordering arbitrary street killings, mass public executions, or the burning of whole villages in revenge for one dead Nazi. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, considered its western neighbors to be capitalist and anti-Soviet strongholds whose very existence posed a challenge to the USSR. In 1939, and again in 1944 and 1945, the Red Army and the NKVD would arrest not only Nazis and collaborators in their newly conquered territories but anyone who might theoretically oppose Soviet administration: social democrats, antifascists, businessmen, bankers, and merchants--often the same people targeted by the Nazis. Although there were civilian casualties in Western Europe, as well as incidents of theft, misbehavior, and abuse perpetrated by the British and American armies, for the most part the Anglo-Saxon troops were trying to kill Nazis, not potential leaders of the liberated nations. And, for the most part, they treated the resistance leaders with respect and not suspicion. The East is also where the Nazis had most vigorously pursued the Holocaust, where they set up the vast majority of ghettoes, concentration camps, and killing fields. Snyder notes that Jews accounted for less than 1 percent of the German population when Hitler came to power in 1933, and many of those managed to flee. Hitler's vision of a "Jew-free" Europe could only be realized when the Wehrmacht invaded Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic States, and eventually Hungary and the Balkans, which is where most of the Jews of Europe actually lived. Of the 5.4 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, the vast majority were from Eastern Europe. Most of the rest were taken to the region to be murdered. The scorn the Nazis held for all Eastern Europeans was closely related to their decision to take the Jews from all over Europe to the East for execution. There, in a land of subhumans, it was possible to do inhuman things. Above all, Eastern Europe is where Nazism and Soviet communism clashed. Although they began the war as allies, Hitler had always wanted to fight a war of destruction against the USSR, and after ­Hitler's invasion Stalin promised the same. The battles between the Red Army and the Wehr­macht were therefore fiercer and bloodier in the east than those that took place further west. German soldiers truly feared the Bolshevik "hordes," about whom they had heard many terrible ­stories, and toward the end of the war they fought them with particular desperation. Their scorn for civilians was especially profound, respect for local culture and infrastructure nonexistent. A German ­general defied Hitler's orders and left Paris standing out of sentimental respect for the city, but other German generals burned Warsaw to the ground and destroyed much of Budapest without thinking about it. Western air forces were not especially concerned about the ancient architecture of this region either: Allied bombers contributed to the toll of death and destruction too, conducting aerial bombardment not only of Berlin and Dresden but also of Danzig and Königsberg, Gdañsk and Kaliniñgrad--among many other places. As the eastern front moved into Germany itself, fighting only intensified. The Red Army focused on its drive to Berlin with something approaching obsession. From early on in the war, Soviet soldiers bade farewell to one another with the cry, "See you in Berlin." Stalin was desperate to reach the city before the other Allies got there. His commanders understood this, and so did their American counterparts. General Eisenhower, knowing full well that the Germans would fight to the death in Berlin, wanted to save American lives and decided to let ­Stalin take the city. Churchill argued against this policy: "If they [the Russians] . . . take Berlin, will not their impression that they have been the overwhelming contributor to our common victory be unduly imprinted in their minds, and may this not lead them into a mood which will raise grave and formidable difficulties in the future?" But the American general's caution won out, and the Americans and ­British advanced slowly to the east--General George C. Marshall having once declared he would be "loath to hazard American lives for purely political purposes," and Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke arguing that "the advance into the country really had to coincide to a certain extent with what our final boundaries would be."18 Meanwhile, the Red Army charged directly toward the German capital, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Excerpted from Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

When World War II came to an end in Europe in May 1945, the armies of the Soviet Union occupied all of Eastern Europe-and for the next 45 years that would be the case. Stalin and his henchmen aggressively took control of all aspects of life in the occupied nations, shutting down all independent agencies, governments, newspapers, etc., throughout the region. Within a decade, all pretense of freedom was gone for millions of citizens. Pulitzer Prizer winner Applebaum (director of political studies, Legatum Inst., London; Gulag: A History) has applied her immense knowledge-and impressive language skills-to a thorough investigation of how the Soviets under Stalin and his successors systematically established nearly totalitarian control of Eastern Europe and, in so doing, laid waste to cultures and societies that had been built over centuries. Verdict This is a powerful and sobering book, by far the best treatment to yet appear on the topic. There have been earlier studies treating individual nations (e.g., Laszlo Borhi's Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956, and Andrzej Paczkowski's The Spring Will Be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom, translated from Polish by Jane Cave), but no one has accomplished the synthesis of multiarchival sources that Applebaum presents here. An important and essential study of a neglected aspect of the Cold War era. [This book has been nominated for the 2012 National Book Award in nonfiction.-Ed.]-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

According to this disturbing but fascinating history, the U.S.S.R.'s 1944-1950 subjugation of Eastern Europe was a brutal process. With other priorities in the forefront at Yalta and other wartime Allied summits, FDR gave Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe short shrift, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Applebaum (Gulag). In this account of the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe during and after WWII, Applebaum concentrates on events in Poland, Hungary, and what became East Germany, all of which unroll with depressing sameness. The Soviet army arrived in 1944-1945 with enormous destruction. There followed an orgy of arrests, trials, executions, and deportation of "fascists," a broad category that included noncommunist anti-Nazi resistance groups. Expulsions of ethnic Germans was also carried out on a mass scale. Faithful Marxists, the Soviet leaders knew that the masses would prefer communism, so they initially allowed political parties, churches, newspapers, and even elections, assuming the people would naturally vote for a proletarian state. When that didn't happen, democracy was quickly shut down. Applebaum delivers a gripping if unremittingly painful account of the period during which Communists, astonished at losing every election, steadily suppressed civil society, whereupon darkness descended for 40 years. With precision in her narration and penetrating analysis, Applebaum has written another masterful account of the brutality of Soviet rule. Illus., maps. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Inc. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

CHOICE Review

Focusing mainly on Poland, East Germany, and Hungary, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Applebaum details the transition to communism in Eastern Europe in the early post-WWII years. Her in-depth, captivating study illustrates how the Soviet government managed this transformation by destroying civil society and building new state-controlled institutions. Soviet administrators used local collaborators, international communists trained in the USSR, the Red Army, and the Soviet and local secret police to enact deportations, ethnic cleansing, terror, purges, and mass fear to ensure the restructuring of East European societies, cultures, and economies. Picking up where Timothy Snyder left off in his Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010), which focuses on the war years, Applebaum's description of the violence and tragedy that befell this region in the early postwar period is similarly haunting and distressing. In the book's last chapters, Applebaum explains how communism in Eastern Europe endured through her discussion of the ways in which many people reluctantly accepted it, passively resisted it, but ultimately allowed it to continue. This thought-provoking, well-written work will be appreciated by a wide audience. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. M. Chakars Saint Joseph's University

Booklist Review

Applebaum's Gulag received a 2004 Pulitzer Prize, an accolade that accords prominence on her new, groundbreaking investigation of the history of communism. Examining Stalin's imposition of totalitarian regimes on Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet zone of Germany, Applebaum depicts Communist parties that were remorselessly successful in destroying opposition but that failed to win widespread popular support. An interesting motif in Applebaum's history is the awareness by Communist leaders of civil society's rejection of Stalinist socialism, demonstrated by the communists' losses in somewhat unfettered postwar elections. After redressing that problem with rigged polls and mini gulags, the regimes strove to improve communist ideology's attractiveness through propaganda, mass demonstrations, socialist realism in art, and model communist cities. Some people became convinced supporters, but most did not and survived through personal compromises with communism. The latter's individual stories, drawn from interviews and research into those suppressed by state security, infuse Applebaum's account with perplexing human interest. What made for a collaborator, a true believer, a dissident? A masterful chronicle and analysis, Applebaum's work is a history-shelf necessity.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

A Pulitzer Prizewinning author returns with the story of those dark decades in Eastern Europe when the Soviet Union slammed the prison doors on people, cultures and countries. Realizing she could not tell the whole story in one volume, Washington Post and Slate columnist Applebaum (Gulag: A History, 2003, etc.) focuses on Poland, East Germany and Hungary and shows how their stories were representative. She begins as World War II was ending. The Russians were plowing through Eastern Europe on their way to Berlin. While many of the Allies were thinking of home, the Soviets had grander and grimmer ideas. Applebaum shows how the communists gained political control of individual countries (they were sometimes surprised in "elections" how unpopular they were), then charts how--in the service of their iron ideology--they systematically destroyed economies, organizations, the arts, education, the press, the judiciary, the church, the entertainment industries and every other social institution. Internment camps and prisons became the true growth industries. Applebaum also explores the tactics employed to keep people in line: fear and intimidation, of course, but also a massive propaganda industry that sought to convince everyone that things were better than they were, but not nearly as good as they would be in five years or so. They invested much hope in education, believing they could indoctrinate an entire generation. It didn't work. Periodically, the author chronicles what was happening in the West (the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift). Beginning with the death of Stalin, Applebaum shows how and why things slowly began to change. The emerging youth culture, the resurgence of religious belief, the rise of a new generation of writers and artists--these were among the factors that energized the 1956 uprisings, which, of course, the Soviets temporarily crushed. A dark but hopeful chronicle that shows how even humanity's worst can fracture and fall.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.