THE ROAD TO TERROR

STALIN AND THE SELF-DESTRUCTION OF THE BOLSHEVIKS, 1932-1939

A further batch of remarkable documents from the archives of the Soviet Central Committee, including secret transcripts of their meetings, police reports, and even the last letters of Bukharin and Yezhov (the head of the NKVD during the Terror) before they were executed. Getty (Modern Russian History/Univ. of Calif., Riverside) and Naumov (deputy director of the Moscow archive) have performed a real service in producing these archives, though a less satisfactory job in explaining them. In truth, the documents, revealing though they are—they include the ruthless interrogation of Bukharin by the Central Committee, and the quotas of those to be shot for each republic—are almost as revealing for what they are not. They are almost devoid of any utterance (at least on the part of the Stalinists) that is not phrased in the most vituperative and unconvincing propagandistic terms. The authors are persuasive in showing that Stalin seemingly had no fixed plan of terror, that he frequently tried to show moderation, and that he procrastinated, particularly in deciding Bukharin’s fate. They are considerably less successful in arguing that “even Politburo members seem to have genuinely believed that myriad conspiracies existed,” largely on the basis of the fact that the implacable Molotov continued to argue for them in them in the 1970s. The sheer extent and absurdity of the charges (that veterinarians were engaged in a massive effort to sabotage animal husbandry, for example) suggest a different and simpler explanation, that of stark fear and self-preservation. The authors argue against a complete acceptance of the fear theory by claiming that the Politburo members were “hard men,” but the pleas sent by Bukharin and Yezhov to Stalin to spare their lives suggest the reverse. Nonetheless, one of the most revealing and chilling books to have emerged from the outstanding efforts of the Yale Annals of Communism Series. (42 illustrations)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-300-07772-6

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more