A significant work of staggering figures and scholarship.

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BLOODLANDS

EUROPE BETWEEN HITLER AND STALIN

A chillingly systematic study of the mass murder mutually perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

From 1933 to 1945, 14 million people were murdered between the two regimes, as Stalin and Hitler consolidated power, jointly occupied Poland and waged war against each other. The region of mass slaughter was largely contained between the two, from central Poland to western Russia and including Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states—a region Snyder (History/Yale Univ.; The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Duke, 2008, etc.) terms the “bloodlands.” The author asserts that the fuzzy understanding of the death camps has skewed the truth about the mass killing, only hinting at their terrifying extent. “The horror of the twentieth century is thought to be located in the camps,” he writes. “But the concentration camps are not where most of the victims of National Socialism and Stalinism died.” Half of the killings within this period were caused by starvation, as a result of Stalin’s starvation policy of the early ’30s (a five-year plan of “industrial development at the price of popular misery”) and Hitler’s deliberate starvation of Soviet prisoners of war. Snyder traces how Stalin’s focus on collectivization and famine “had unwittingly performed much of the ideological work that helped Hitler come to power.” Stalin had already been secretly practicing mass murder on the Polish population during the Great Terror, well before the “large open pogrom” of Kristallnacht. Hitler recognized their joint “common desire to get rid of the old equilibrium” and neatly divide and destroy Poland at the Molotov-Ribbentrop line. His Hunger Plan was followed by massive depopulation in the forms of deportation, shooting, forced labor and, eventually, the death factories. Snyder devotes ample space to the partisan efforts, the incineration of Warsaw and Stalin’s eager postwar ethnic-cleansing sweep. In the concluding chapter, “Humanity,” the author urges readers to join him in a clear-eyed reexamination of this comparative history of mass murder and widespread suffering.

A significant work of staggering figures and scholarship.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-00239-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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