Red Famine
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag and the National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain, a revelatory history of one of Stalin's greatest crimesIn 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization—in effect a second Russian revolution—which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least 5 million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than 3 million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic's borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases, they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Red Famine Details

TitleRed Famine
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 10th, 2017
PublisherSignal
ISBN-139780771009303
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Cultural, Russia, Ukraine, Politics, Russian History, European History

Red Famine Review

  • Hadrian
    January 1, 1970
    "It is strictly forbidden to bury people here." -outskirts of Kharkiv, 1933This is not the first original volume in English on what is now called the Holodomor, also called the 'Terror-Famine'. That would be Robert Conquest's study, 'The Harvest of Sorrow', which saved it from sliding down the memory hole. While that first book was seminal in its time, this new study builds on it with archival research, new memoirs, further testimonies, (and the work of a small army of Ukrainian historians), now "It is strictly forbidden to bury people here." -outskirts of Kharkiv, 1933This is not the first original volume in English on what is now called the Holodomor, also called the 'Terror-Famine'. That would be Robert Conquest's study, 'The Harvest of Sorrow', which saved it from sliding down the memory hole. While that first book was seminal in its time, this new study builds on it with archival research, new memoirs, further testimonies, (and the work of a small army of Ukrainian historians), now the third book in Applebaum's series on Soviet atrocities. The deaths of approximately four million people from 1931 to 1934 were a targeted famine. They were an assault on Ukraine and Ukrainians. It was, in a twisted way, a continuation of the Tsarist policy of Russification towards the Ukrainian territories - forbidding the teaching of their native language, forced resettlement, book banning, etc. The area, while amenable to socialism around the time of the Russian Civil War, bristled at Bolshevism and the outside intervention. The famine proceeded in stages. The 1920s were a period of temporary relaxation of the Russification policies, and intellectuals were free to write in and teach Ukrainian to a new generation of students. But by 1929, volunteers from the Russian areas of the Soviet Union came to preach the virtues of agricultural collectivization - first by persuasion, then by coercion, or agitation against foreign elements or 'liberalism'.After this was a campaign against 'kulaks', a broadly defined group which might have implied rich peasants, but instead singled out those with two cows instead of one, or anyone who simply resisted too loudly the previous collectivization campaigns. The records of the secret police show that not everyone went along quietly. The regime would not move a step back, and then neither would the peasants - they hid their grain, or killed their livestock to prevent confiscation. Stalin, remembering the chaos of the Russian Civil War, implemented mass deportations. The final stage, and the one which was directly responsible for the greatest human suffering, was forced requisitions, often from the poorest segments of the peasantry. As part of a crash industrialization drive, Stalin felt compelled to raise grain exports. The only way to do this, he felt, was the use of terror. Search teams ravaged the fields and the barren shacks, searching for grain stores that never were gathered or sown. They shot at scavengers picking grain from the side of the road, and food theft was made punishable by death or exile to the gulag.The food was gone by 1933, and starvation followed. Here Applebaum's perspective moves from the political to the personal. I won't go into it too much. They ate grass and tree bark, and the cities were littered with the corpses of those who wandered in from the countryside in search of food. Kyiv and Kharkiv districts, which were the centers of rebellion during the Civil War, were especially targeted. By 1934, whole villages were depopulated, with wolves scavenging in the abandoned huts. Ukrainian farms were not the only places that experienced poor harvesting conditions - Kazakhstan under the 'anti-nomadic' campaigns and the Northern Caucasus were also heavily affected. But Applebaum demonstrates that Soviet policy was targeted towards exacerbating the food situation in Ukraine.Then, and now, it was denied. The dead were buried in mass graves under the cover of night. A few Western reporters were able to publish articles, but they were protested by useful idiots or paid agents. Applebaum makes hay of the case of Walter Duranty, a New York Times reporter who tried to seek out 'both sides' of the crisis and coveted access to the Soviet leadership for further articles - sound familiar? Reports filtered to what embassies were left, but other governments kept mum, and others needed allies against Hitler. The cover-up worked as propaganda often works - not in creating an entirely new narrative, but by sowing doubt. Those who spoke out against it were derided as conspiracy theorists or Cold Warriors pushing some agenda. Applebaum takes a technical approach in her conclusion. While the definition under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide may leave some ambiguity - after all, it was only ratified with Soviet approval - under the original definition of the word 'genocide' proposed by Raphael Lemkin, the result is an unequivocal yes. The Soviet Union, at multiple levels, carried out deliberate policies exacerbating the effects of the ongoing famine with the effect of depopulating Ukraine. Now, this history is a battlefield. In 2014, demonstrations overthrew the pro-Russian president, Yanukovych, and as a direct result, Putin invaded Crimea and the Donbass. Ukraine is still shorn of its territory, and caught up in an expensive and destabilizing war, and Putin decries all his enemies as fascists and weaves webs of pro-Western conspiracy. Attempts within the UN to publish a statement on the Holodomor were denounced as, incredibly, 'Russophobic'. In this way, the debate over history is a background for ongoing conflict. Applebaum's history is a powerful, even-handed study of a humanitarian catastrophe that is too often overlooked. It is superb. I recommend it not only as a study of history, but also one of disaster and malice.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Although this book is about the ‘Holodomor’ (the word is derived from the Ukrainian words, ‘holod’ or ‘hunger’ and ‘mor’ or extermination) or famine of 1932-33, it is actually about much more than that. It is about the repression of the Ukrainian intellectual and political class, of the Sovietisation of Ukraine, the collectivisation of agriculture and the attempts to wipe out Ukrainian culture and language. Ironically, it was the fertile soil and relatively mild climate of Ukraine, which led to Although this book is about the ‘Holodomor’ (the word is derived from the Ukrainian words, ‘holod’ or ‘hunger’ and ‘mor’ or extermination) or famine of 1932-33, it is actually about much more than that. It is about the repression of the Ukrainian intellectual and political class, of the Sovietisation of Ukraine, the collectivisation of agriculture and the attempts to wipe out Ukrainian culture and language. Ironically, it was the fertile soil and relatively mild climate of Ukraine, which led to them becoming so valuable to the Soviet Union. The country had two harvests a year and was responsible for feeding far more than their own region. The author takes us back to the revolution of 1917 and traces how the period of upheaval saw optimism for Ukraine, but, by 1918, Lenin was making plans to occupy the area. In fact, the first half of this history looks at the various uprisings, uneasy periods of peace, discontent, crisis and rationing, which led up to the events of 1932/33.By 1930, collectivisation of farming led from what had been a loose organisation of farming, by the Soviet Union, to tight control and grain requisitioning demands which were impossible to fulfil. There was pressure on the agricultural peasants to send more and more grain outside Ukraine, but the farmers themselves lost control of their lives – and lost enthusiasm for working the land. However, Stalin’s policies led to famine across the grain-growing regions of the USSR and nowhere more than Ukraine. Not only was the country under pressure to keep producing – and yet not keeping - enough crops to keep them alive, but anyone caught stealing food faced many years in a labour camp, or death. By the end of 1932, over 100,000 people had been sent to camps and 4,500 were executed.The author then goes on to the actual famine period which is terrible to read about. All grain now was t be collected to fulfil Russian demands and no excuses were accepted. However, although activists swept through villages; taking not only grain, but fruit, seeds, vegetables, flour – indeed everything from crusts on the table to the family cow – there was no sympathy for the Ukrainian people. It is clear that Soviet newspapers presented the starving population as unpatriotic; arguing they did not care about the workers or the 5 year plan. Although this is a serious historical work, it is not dry or dull in any way. There can be nothing about this book which fails to move you – reading of children who die during lessons at school, of the distrust, suspicion and lack of empathy as witnesses became indifferent to the suffering around them, is both tragic and horribly real. Yet, this is as much about the attempts by the Ukrainian people to retain their culture and language, as it was to resist the government’s attempts to starve their nation. I must admit I knew little about Ukrainian history, but this was an eye opening read about a terrible period of history and of a people who survived against the odds.
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  • happy
    January 1, 1970
    In Red Famine, the author, Anne Applebaum, does an extremely good job of explaining just what happened in 1931-'34 when an estimated 3.9 million people starved to death and why. Starting with the Russian Civil War that followed World War I, the author looks at the Ukrainian desire for independence and why Ukraine had never been able to obtain that independence. She looks at the Bolsheviks' strategy to subdue the Ukraine and keep it part of Russia and by extension the USSR. While discussing Ukrai In Red Famine, the author, Anne Applebaum, does an extremely good job of explaining just what happened in 1931-'34 when an estimated 3.9 million people starved to death and why. Starting with the Russian Civil War that followed World War I, the author looks at the Ukrainian desire for independence and why Ukraine had never been able to obtain that independence. She looks at the Bolsheviks' strategy to subdue the Ukraine and keep it part of Russia and by extension the USSR. While discussing Ukrainian desire for independence, Ms. Applebaum also looks at the Ukrainian culture, language and religion. She explains just how close the Ukraine came to independence during the civil war. She opines if the various independence groups could have cooperated with one another and with the White Russians, there was very could chance independence could have been achived. She also gives reasons as to why that cooperation never took place.After the Civil War, the author looks at the Bolsheviks first attempts to collectivize agriculture and its failure in the early 20’s. The collectivization was not successful and less grain was collected than projected. This led to famine. During this famine, the gov’t admitted they had a problem and accepted outside help including from the US. Lenin and by extension the Soviet gov’t ended up backing down and leaving the Ukrainian agriculture system alone, allowing the peasant farmers to own their own land and animals and keep their language and religion. In this section the author also give a pretty good summation of why the collectivization failed. However, I found this section to be a little dry and text bookish.Fast forward to the late 20’s and after the power struggle was resolved following Lenin’s death, Stalin again decides to force the collectivization of agriculture, not only in the Ukraine, other agriculture regions of the USSR. One thing I found interesting about Stalin’s initial attempts, is that they used a carrot and stick approach – the peasant could keep his land, but had to pay very high taxes. If he collectivized, the peasant would have access to the latest techniques and equipment. At the same time this was going on the Government in Moscow was in dire need of hard currency and signed contracts to deliver more grain than the area was producing. Moscow and by extension, Stalin, thought the deference could be made up with the collectivization of agriculture.Ms. Applebaum’ s descriptions of what happened next are heart rending! I feel that her descriptions of the famine is by far the best parts of the book. They are difficult to read! She describes the efforts the Soviet Gov’t made to collect grain and other food stuffs. In addition to grain, the collectors took seeds, the produce of the small vegetable gardens people were allowed, farm animals - both food and working, any stored food, food sent in from the outside, and even farm equipment. The collectors literally took every morsel they could find, leaving both the collective farmers and the Kulaks both without anything to eat or plant the next spring. As this is going on, the author also recounts the Soviet efforts to stamp out the Ukrainian culture, language and religion.Finally while recounting the famine, the author looks at just what extreme hunger does to people. She tells of the apathy in the starving population. People would literally step over dead and dying children as they went about their daily tasks with out a second thought. Many attempted to leave the Ukraine Steppes (which was forbidden) and make it to the cities, which were relatively well fed or out the Ukraine entirely. Finally she looks at the cannibalism that occurred and the rationale behind it. It boils down to, “They are going to die anyway so…” While not universal, parents ate children, children ate parents and many people just ate those who died. Ms. Applebaum looks at the effect of this on the culture as a whole and how some accepted it and others looked on it with horror. Ms Applebaum includes several pictures of the starving and dead that are believed to be the only photos taken of famine victims. The final section of the book looks at how the Soviet Officials from Stalin down covered up the famine. They did this through travel restrictions, just flatly denying anyone was starving, manipulating the foreign press amoung other methods. The author looks at the NY Times correspond William Durranty’s reporting, which also denied anyone was starving in the Ukraine and won him a Pulitzer Prize. The gov’t also refused to release the 1937 census that showed 8-10 million people missing from projection and eliminated (killed) many of those who worked on it. Until the day of its breakup, the USSR denied that there was ever a famine in the Ukraine during the 1930sTo sum this up. This first half of the narrative is a little dry and some ways reads like a text book. However, when the author starts describing the hows, whys and effects of the 1931-’34 famine, it is in many ways mesmerizing. One niggling criticism, the author uses the Ukrainian/Russian spelling of all place names with out a cross reference to the common Western spellings. Some are easy to figure out, others I still have no idea. Even with that, this is still a solid 4 star read.
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum is the history of Russian-Ukranian relations from 1917- 1934 centering on Russian atrocities. Applebaum is an American journalist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a visiting Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics, where she runs Arena, a project on propaganda and disinformation. She has also been an editor a Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum is the history of Russian-Ukranian relations from 1917- 1934 centering on Russian atrocities. Applebaum is an American journalist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a visiting Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics, where she runs Arena, a project on propaganda and disinformation. She has also been an editor at The Economist and The Spectator, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post.The Ukraine is the birth place of the earliest Russian settlements. Kiev is called the mother of Russian Cities or a cradle of the Rus'. The historic flux of borders and conquered lands and peoples had created friction between the various nationalities that became apparent with the fall of the Romanov dynasty.  Ukraine saw it was time to break from Moscow's rule or rather St. Petersburg's rule.Instead, Ukraine found itself in the middle of a battle ground. The Bolsheviks wanted the territory. The White Russian Russian army defended but without much care for the Ukrainians. The people were pummelled by both sides. With the defeat of the White armies, The Bolsheviks systematically slaughtered tens of thousands of Cossacks. The Bolsheviks saw Ukraine as their bread basket. Quotas on wheat and forced collectivization created chaos and mass death. Peasants fought against losing their land, live stock, and possessions. Although there was resistance, it was far from organized and effective. Later, Stalin's paranoid mind saw any resistance real or imagined as a threat to the USSR. Many were executed for a variety of "crimes." Many simply just disappeared.The wheat taken from the Ukrainian farms was not just taken and sold back to the farmers as bread or even used to feed Russia.  It was exported for hard currency.  The five-year plans and quotas existed independently of reality.  When yields were lower than required Moscow took actions like limiting communal tractors forcing more manual and (disappearing) animal labor.  Instead of finding solutions more restrictions were added.  By the time of the 1933 famine, there was not enough healthy or living people to plant and harvest.  There was no carrot and stick only the stick.  The Springtime brought with it not the smell of flowers or new life but the decay of rotting bodies. Famine is perhaps not the most accurate word for the human catastrophe in Ukraine.  There was food but it was for the consumption others outside the Ukraine and even Russia.  People were dying in front of rows of grain.  Stalin feared Ukrainian nationalism as a threat to Soviet power.  Lenin recruited Ukrainians under the guise of Soviet unity rather than Russian unity.  Stalin, however, simply wanted to crush any resistance from organized threats to women and children stealing a handful of wheat.  It is estimated that three million Ukrainians died, mostly of starvation,  in 1933.  Applebaum also describes the process of starvation on the body and the mind.  Using declassified records and documents along with first-hand hand experiences she captures the systematic terror and suffering that is one of the worlds mostly forgotten tragedies.  When the world was not looking, Stalin waged war on people in his own country killing millions with systematic starvation.  Red Famine details the atrocities, failures, and indifference that allowed the senseless slaughter of millions. 
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  • Beata
    January 1, 1970
    Ann Applebaum does not disappoint. A thorough account of the most terrifying times in the history of Ukraine. Superb panorama and the background. Ms Applebaum presents us with not just the several years of the famine itself but also explains in detail the reasons behind the tragedy of millions of innocent people. The Author colleced accounts by ordinary people, and some are truly horryfing, making us aware of the fact that often our own suffering makes us immune to the suffering of others.
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  • Chrissie
    January 1, 1970
    This book has two interrelated themes - Ukraine’s path toward independence and the famine that occurred there 1932-1933.The history of Ukraine and Russia must be viewed together, and so the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War that followed, first Lenin’s and then Stalin’s reign are discussed too. The book starts in 1917 and concludes in the present. The famine that occurred 1921-1922, and for which international aid was given, came to be followed by the Great Famine of 1932-1933. The latter fami This book has two interrelated themes - Ukraine’s path toward independence and the famine that occurred there 1932-1933.The history of Ukraine and Russia must be viewed together, and so the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War that followed, first Lenin’s and then Stalin’s reign are discussed too. The book starts in 1917 and concludes in the present. The famine that occurred 1921-1922, and for which international aid was given, came to be followed by the Great Famine of 1932-1933. The latter famine came to be known as the Holodomor. This word in translation means “to kill by starvation”, thus inferring that the famine was not simply due to natural causes but was instead purposefully instigated, an act of genocide led by Stalin. In an epilog, the author discusses if the latter famine should be classified as genocide. In any case, be that so or not, to understand the relations between Ukraine and Russia today, the past must be understood. It is this that is the purpose of the book. A clear and succinct introduction explains all of this. Knowing at the start that the genocide question will be discussed at the end, a reader reads with this question prominently at the fore. The book begins with the first Ukrainian War of Independence,1917 to 1921. The February Revolution of 1917 led ethnic groups in the Russian Empire to seek increased autonomy and self-determination. The Ukrainian National Movement was formed. In June 1917, in Kiev, the Ukrainian People's Republic was declared, a sovereign state to be governed by the socialist-dominated "Central Rada". But it was short-lived. Year by year we follow events - collectivization, blacklisting, deportations, the famine of 1920-1921, liquidation of the kulaks and then unrealistic grain, livestock and vegetable requisitions imposed on a people without food. Travel restrictions so people could not flee. The first half of the book, covering the years before the famine, were a struggle for me. I was seriously considering putting the book aside. The background information is essential, but dry in its presentation. Too many examples to prove one point. Too repetitive. Not engaging. The famine is heartrendingly depicted. Physical and psychological effects of famine are documented. What was eaten when no “food” was available. What was done with the dead. Personal experiences are told. People who lived through the famine are quoted. There is however little reference to source material. We are told “a memoirist” or “multiple witnesses” or a “Polish diplomat” claim …… but why are we not give the names of those making these statements?! Yet I do not doubt the validity of the claims made or the horror of what occurred. Thereafter follow chapters devoted first to a discussion of death statistics and then the years after the famine. The absence of international aid, resettlement programs, Russification, purging of Ukrainian officials and destruction of evidence that the famine had occurred. Stalin claimed the 1937 census to be invalid! It showed all too clearly how many had died. These chapters were not dry. Finally, the epilog. It presents a straightforward analysis of whether the famine should or should not be considered a genocide. Well, it all depends on whose definition one goes by – Raphael Lemkin (1900 – 1959), who coined the word “genocide” and who initiated the Genocide Convention signed on December 9, 1948 OR the United Nation’s Convention on the Crime of Genocide itself. Lemkin referred to the mass killing of Jews in the Second World War, the killing of Armenians by the Turks and the Great Famine of 1932-1933 as genocide, but the Convention, which today constitutes the basis for international law, states that genocide is a state sponsored assault on an entire group of people or on a whole nation. That not all Ukrainians were targeted means the famine should not be classified as genocide.To properly judge the events that took place in the Ukraine one must compare these events with what was happening elsewhere. I wish more had been spoken of the famine in the Volga region and Kazakhstan. There is some information, but not enough. I very much liked the narration by Suzanne Toren. The reading is clear and at a tempo that allows listeners time to think. Many Russian names are given in the book’s first half; these are too often hard to distinguish. This is no fault of the narrator, but it does make listening more difficult than reading. I do not like that her intonation and pauses emphasize which events are evil. I am perfectly capable of figuring this out myself! I have given the narration four stars.
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  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор); derived from морити голодом, "to kill by starvation"), also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, and—before the widespread use of the term "Holodomor", and sometimes currently—also referred to as the Great Famine, and The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33—was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people. It was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affe The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомо́р); derived from морити голодом, "to kill by starvation"), also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, and—before the widespread use of the term "Holodomor", and sometimes currently—also referred to as the Great Famine, and The Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33—was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people. It was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country. [wiki sourced] Description: In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization—in effect a second Russian revolution—which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least 5 million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than 3 million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic's borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases, they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.Red Famine by Anne Applebaum review – did Stalin deliberately let Ukraine starve?
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    A wrenching and thorough account of the way Stalin created the famine that killed easily 3.5 million Ukrainians, and maybe far more. The eyewitness testimonies of the starvation are devastating. The last chapter is an especially interesting discussion of where the famine fits in the history of Genocide. For anyone interested in the history of the first decades of the Soviet Union, this is a must-read.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Red Famine – Stalin’s War on UkraineAs someone from a Polish family who before the Second World War lived in the Kresy (East Poland now in Ukraine) it has always surprised me how little of this war against Ukraine and her people is not widely known in the West. My Grandfather often used it as an example of how evil Stalin was in the way he allowed policy, to kill people and relieve him of a troublesome part of the country of its affluence.As a child, he lived in Podwołoczyska, a border town on t Red Famine – Stalin’s War on UkraineAs someone from a Polish family who before the Second World War lived in the Kresy (East Poland now in Ukraine) it has always surprised me how little of this war against Ukraine and her people is not widely known in the West. My Grandfather often used it as an example of how evil Stalin was in the way he allowed policy, to kill people and relieve him of a troublesome part of the country of its affluence.As a child, he lived in Podwołoczyska, a border town on the river Zbruch, and when playing alongside the river he often heard the machine gun fire of the Soviet border guards killing Ukrainians trying to escape, in order to feed their families and themselves. He would often talk of his childhood and the knowledge that on the other side of the river Zbruch, evil things were happening to Ukrainians. After 17th September 1940, my family would also feel the wrath of Stalin.Following rural unrest in 1932, the harvest in the Soviet Union dropped by 40%, and between 1928 – 1932 the livestock fell by 50%. One of the reasons being the peasants would rather feed themselves and their families instead of handing the cattle to the Communists.All this from Stalin’s New Economic Plans which enforced collectivisation on the people, brought resistance, the liquidation of kulaks and a famine which would extend across the Soviet Union. Better known to Ukrainians and many East Europeans as the Holodomor, since independence has meant that this episode of cruelty and killing can become better known in the West.Stalin knew what was going on in Ukraine, and what some readers might find hard to understand is that the Holodomor was completely man- made. It was his decisions, and that of his ministers that led to the famine, through the collectivisation of land and the eviction of kulaks, identified as enemies of the Revolution.There are some historians who dispute the fact that the famine was man-made, I happen to agree with her assessment. Like Katyn, the Holodomor was the great unmentionable, Ukrainians could not talk about or acknowledge until 1991. Now is the time to tell the world and remind it what happened and not allow Stalin to be rehabilitated. Anne Applebaum is not afraid to investigate and write about controversial parts of history, and the world is a better place for the light being shined into the dark corners. This is an excellently researched, well written book, this is not a dry history, this is a book that draws you in, and the writing keeps you captivated. I hope this book gets a wider audience, as it is compelling and tackle the ignorance that exists.
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  • Theresa
    January 1, 1970
    Anne Applebaum's Red Famine is an important history of the Ukraine (and USSR by default). Applebaum provides meaningful context beginning with the 1917 Ukrainian Revolution, famine of the 1920s, Stalin's agricultural collectivation policies of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and Ukrainian nationalist sentiment and peasant resistance prior to focusing on the terror famine known as the Holodomor occurring between 1932 and 1934. Holodomor is a term derived from two Ukrainian words for hunger and ex Anne Applebaum's Red Famine is an important history of the Ukraine (and USSR by default). Applebaum provides meaningful context beginning with the 1917 Ukrainian Revolution, famine of the 1920s, Stalin's agricultural collectivation policies of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and Ukrainian nationalist sentiment and peasant resistance prior to focusing on the terror famine known as the Holodomor occurring between 1932 and 1934. Holodomor is a term derived from two Ukrainian words for hunger and extermination. This famine was not created by crop failure or poor weather, it was a man made famine created by Stalin's agricultural policies, grain quotas (and associated penalties, including food confiscation inside homes, for not meeting those policies), etc. Ukrainian peasants, especially the Kulaks, that exercised resistance, were treated especially harsh. At least five million died during this famine, the vast majority in the Ukraine. Despite this tragic history and subsequent struggles, the Ukraine stands today as an independent nation.
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  • Arnis
    January 1, 1970
    https://poseidons99.wordpress.com/201...
  • Luba
    January 1, 1970
    Frankly, I don’t care whether we can call Holodomor a genocide or not. What I do care about is for people to remember and recognize that 4.5 million Ukrainians were killed purposefully by the Soviet State. I want people to know that “the elimination of Ukraine’s elite in the 1930s – the nation’s best scholars, writers and political leaders as well as its most energetic farmers – continues to matter.” This is an incredibly well written and documented narrative about one of the most tragic but hid Frankly, I don’t care whether we can call Holodomor a genocide or not. What I do care about is for people to remember and recognize that 4.5 million Ukrainians were killed purposefully by the Soviet State. I want people to know that “the elimination of Ukraine’s elite in the 1930s – the nation’s best scholars, writers and political leaders as well as its most energetic farmers – continues to matter.” This is an incredibly well written and documented narrative about one of the most tragic but hidden pages of Europe’s 20th century history. A must read for everyone who does care.
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  • Owlseyes
    January 1, 1970
  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    Superb authoritative examination of the famine in the Ukraine. Meticulously researched, detailed, accessible and often shocking, this is essential reading for anyone interested in Ukraine and Russia, the relationship between the two countries and the current tense situation.
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  • Marks54
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderful book on a really horrible subject - the famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s (1932-33 in particular). The argument is that this was not just a matter of bad luck for the millions who died but a matter of murderous state policy on the part of the USSR towards the population of Ukraine - that this was a case of genocide in its original general meaning. Given the history of the Ukraine having resisted the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War and having resisted collectivizati This is a wonderful book on a really horrible subject - the famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s (1932-33 in particular). The argument is that this was not just a matter of bad luck for the millions who died but a matter of murderous state policy on the part of the USSR towards the population of Ukraine - that this was a case of genocide in its original general meaning. Given the history of the Ukraine having resisted the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War and having resisted collectivization, the move to collective farms, the Soviet Government’s policies towards the Ukrainian people represents an effort to eliminate Ukrainian nationalism as a political threat to the Bolshevik state. This is nothing less than a case of purposeful mass starvation used as a political weapon against millions of political opponents. This is difficult material to read and it is easy to get numb to the extent of the crimes involved here. Ir is a common feature of books on famines of the last two centuries, whether the focus is on Ireland, India, China, or Russia. The numbers of people involved is truly staggering.The Ukrainian famine has been controversial. The Soviet Union refused to acknowledge its existence for decades and the story did not really come out until the 1980s with the publication of Robert Conquest’s book “Harvest of Sorrow”. Telling the full story as richly as Applebaum has done here only became possible with the opening up of archives with the demise of the USSR. Along with Conquest’s book, this famine was a central part of the story that Timothy Snyder told in his book “Bloodlands”. The famine is central to an understanding of the current conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and is thus a central item in contemporary affairs that is affecting the US as well. What is the big deal about Russia, Ukraine, and the US elections? It is a long story. It is tempting to imagine an account like this as being tied to conservative US politics but that is not the case and the horrors of the famine can be appreciated independently of political party affiliation.Applebaum is a marvelous writer and historian who combines a sharp macro level perspective with an almost limitless access to heartbreaking case studies of how the famine affected people. She brings multiple levels of analysis together here with a style that seems effortless. This is all the more amazing once one realizes that Applebaum literally wrote the book on the Soviet Gulag and the Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe after WW2. There is only so much of this that I can take at a time - and the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution puts that to the test. This is an important book and well worth reading despite the really horrible subject matter.
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    Parking this one for the moment....... may come back to it but for now now really keeping my attention.
  • Roman Baiduk
    January 1, 1970
    For me, as a person whose relatives suffered in this disaster, it was very difficult to read this book. But it is necessary to read such studies. To remind yourself of the evil that is possible in this world. How a totalitarian regime can justify any cruelty, normalize the killing of millions of people in the name of a certain ideology. To remind yourself of this, so that you never let this happen again.
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  • Swimfan
    January 1, 1970
    As a student of history, (my dissertation was on the factors behind the collapse of the USSR) I had not before come across a book that dealt specifically with not only the 1933 Famine in Ukraine, but also behind Stalin and the Bolshevik's obsession with destroying any lingering notion of Ukraine nationality and national identity. There have been books dedicated to the famine in Russia, and other parts of the Soviet Union, but not one that focuses explicitly on Ukraine. The trove of new informati As a student of history, (my dissertation was on the factors behind the collapse of the USSR) I had not before come across a book that dealt specifically with not only the 1933 Famine in Ukraine, but also behind Stalin and the Bolshevik's obsession with destroying any lingering notion of Ukraine nationality and national identity. There have been books dedicated to the famine in Russia, and other parts of the Soviet Union, but not one that focuses explicitly on Ukraine. The trove of new information that Applebaum has unearthed means that this a must read for any student of Eastern European or Soviet history. There is a great introduction which, to the uninitiated reader, explains the geographical physical terrain of the country, and just why it has been considered an important strategic country for both Russia, and Poland to the East. This history comes to the fore during the famine and it is important that the reader has a knowledge of this. If you have read "Iron Curtain" by Applebaum, you will know what to expect with regards to the way she writes and structures her books, but the content that she has unearthed and compiled is staggering. The way that she breaks down the lead up to the famine, the decisions that led to it, the attempt at a cover up and how disproportionately it affected Ukraine is nothing short of masterful.The descriptions of just how famine dehumanizes peoples are very moving and in some cases quite upsetting, however the need for these powerful images to be portrayed outweighs whatever shock you may get from reading about exactly how starvation and hunger destroys people from the inside out, literally. This is the only way to convey just how desperate people were during the famine. As with other instances of mass famine and hunger (the most comparable on occurred in China between 1958 - 61) the lengths humans go to in order to survive is nothing short of shocking. And it is in theses similarities that you really begin to get a fuller picture of just how dehumanizing famine is. And one of the thing all famines have in common: all famines are man made. That really comes out in this book, just how man made and as a result, avoidable the famine really was.For me, the most revealing part of this book was the chapters about the cover up that the Soviet government attempted, and how the use of foreign journalists to help portray an image of the Soviet Union abroad, even during the famine, played such a crucial role in convincing the world that there were "food shortages, but no famine" in the USSR. You would imagine it would be incredibly hard to cover up a famine where millions possibly lost their lives (the number is almost impossible to quantify due to the cover up, and the terrible record keeping of the Ukrainian Communist Party and the Soviet Government) however, the USSR did as good a job as any in keeping the true nature and scale of this disaster from the watching world.The book focuses on Ukraine and how Stalin sought what could now be called a campaign of genocide or ethnic cleansing. A must read book for anyone interested in Soviet history, or Eastern European history. The afterword helps the reader understand how the historic issues between Russia and Ukraine have re-emerged recently in the axing of Crimea and Putin's general stance towards the Ukraine. At just over 350 pages it isn't that long, but she manages to capture all the relevant information and the general mood in Ukraine at the time of the famine. Once again, I feel I must add that this book does not deal with the Russian aspect of the famine. It deals entirely with the affect it had on Ukraine.A brilliant book detailing one of the more darker periods in Soviet history. However, as a book on famine, it comes second only to Tombstone, by Yang Jisheng, detailing the great Chinese famine of 1958 - 62. Although the price for the hardback is a bit steep at £25, see if you can find it for cheaper, but if not, its well worth the investment
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  • Yvonne
    January 1, 1970
    This is a well laid out book that covers a very large and important piece of Russian and Ukranian history . It is very compelling reading and I think would be an invaluable book for those who want to know more regarding this area.I know very little about the Ukraine and the atrocities that were committed upon it and it’s people. I have vague memories from very generalised history lessons at school as a teenager. But now, after reading this account of events, I am aware of the depths people have This is a well laid out book that covers a very large and important piece of Russian and Ukranian history . It is very compelling reading and I think would be an invaluable book for those who want to know more regarding this area.I know very little about the Ukraine and the atrocities that were committed upon it and it’s people. I have vague memories from very generalised history lessons at school as a teenager. But now, after reading this account of events, I am aware of the depths people have gone to, to achieve power.For me, this book seems to be a very comprehensive account of the Ukraine between the years of 1917-1934. It discusses how the rich, fertile soil made for the ideal conditions of growing grain, it then follows through the history to tell how Ukraine wanted to become autonomous of the Imperial Russian Empire, this is something that Russia did not want to happen, due to it’s reliance on Ukraine being a valuable food provider. It is quite disturbing how the peasants from Ukraine are seen by Russia, they are viewed as worthless , their culture and language to be ignored under the overpowering Russian rule and how they were persecuted beyond belief. This book goes through the chronology of events that include a huge and and vast amount of bloodshed and atrocities.As I said this is comprehensive, there is a huge amount of information and it also includes sources. It discusses the politics, revolts and fighting for the power to rule a country, and what methods were employed to maintain the power for as long as possible during a time of huge unrest.This is a book I have found quite hard to review due to the vast amount of detail. There is so much detail I could include, but I have decided to limit myself. What I really want to say is “Just go and buy this book, you will not be disappointed” I would highly recommend this book to Historical and Factual readers, and especially for those with an interest in Europe, Russia and Ukraine.I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin UK for allowing me a copy of this book. My opinion is honest, unbiased and is my own.
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  • Olksndr
    January 1, 1970
    Very insightful book, specifically due to highly vivid and thorough description of the pre-history starting from 1917 and the reasons which led to the famine. Last chapter is the must-read to all contemporary ukrainians
  • Astralhunter
    January 1, 1970
    Propaganda.
  • Chris Jaffe
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very good overview of what caused the Famine, the experience of it, and how it's been remembered (or mis-remembered). Applebaum has a few early chapters looking at the Ukraine under communist rule before the Fame. Well, it's more than a few chapters and it goes a little long to be considered just "early" in the book, but it serves as a good backdrop. Initially, the Soviet government had to worry about breakaway tendencies in the Ukraine. There was some Ukrainian nationalism and they su This is a very good overview of what caused the Famine, the experience of it, and how it's been remembered (or mis-remembered). Applebaum has a few early chapters looking at the Ukraine under communist rule before the Fame. Well, it's more than a few chapters and it goes a little long to be considered just "early" in the book, but it serves as a good backdrop. Initially, the Soviet government had to worry about breakaway tendencies in the Ukraine. There was some Ukrainian nationalism and they sure as hell didn't like communism. They rebelled during the Russian Civil War, and while that was put down, ultimately a truce emerged. During the 1920s, a double reform began: economic and nationalistic. Under the N.E.P., the Ukrainian peasants were allowed to maintain some control of their land. Also, an accomodation with Ukrainian nationalist sentiment was reached. (It could be expressed, but don't get carried away with it). But this wasn't going to last. If a Ukrainian peasant did a good job building up wealth under the NEP, he became a kulak and labelled an enemy of the people. The USSR didn't really like the accomodations and didn't much like their reliance of Ukrainian grain. Stalin's solution: collectivation. It was vigorously launched into - so vigorously that led to a backlash. Just as happened a decade before, the Ukraine was into rebellion. This was also put down, but now Soviet leadership really didn't trust the peasants and still needed their grain.This takes us to the Famine. The Ukraine's harvest was down 60% (and across the Soviet Union by 40%). Stalin initially policies of unconditional grain requisitions and that the places the least productive be given the least pity. (After all, they weren't producing as much for the urban workers, so screw them). They weren't allowed to leave their villages. They weren't allowed to receive anything. The USSR blamed the old Ukrainization policy for any grain failures. The Ukrainian Communist Party was purged because so many in it were sympathetic to the plight of the peasants. Critic were accused of being part of an international conspirarcy. 200,000 were arrested in the Ukraine from 1932-33. Ukrainian cultural output was attacked. Requisitions then took ALL food, not just grain. Some colloborated, out of fear or depression. Tellingly, there really was no official ideology behind these extreme requisition measures. Starvation entered and people were too weak to do anything. Family feelings went away, even parental love. Empathy disappeared. Theft and vigilantism arose. Cannibalism. Families still with their cow were better off. Some kids were given help. If you had any goods to sell, this was the time to do it. 31 million people lived there, and there were 3.9 million extra deaths. People by forests did better. Places normally less hit by famine were the most hit by this one. Places that had the most resistance before had teh worst of it here. Afterwards, requisition levels were adjusted. Also, due to a labor shortage others were moved in. During the Great Purge, the Ukraine was a special target. The USSR denied any famine or wouldn't comment on it. Outside diplomats had an awareness of it, but also had Hitler to worry about and some just couldn't believe what was being reported. The 1937 census info was suppressed. The accepted wisdom became it was hunger, but not starvation.Ukrainians abroad first started talking about it. They were brushed off as reactionaries, but they kept talking. The Nazis created a Hunger Plan for the Ukraine but were never able to put it into place. Eventually, the notion of the Famine became more well-known. Even in recent decades, though, some Russians deny it. The Famine is now too closely tied to Ukrainian nationalism for Russia.The Famine was NOT caused by crop failure or by the weather. It was created by Stalin's policies.
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  • Raughley Nuzzi
    January 1, 1970
    I'd never read extensively about the Holodomor, but this book covers it in great detail without becoming a horrorshow of anecdotes (though there are plenty). When covering an event this terrible, it can be tempting to fall into an obsession with the awful details of starvation and lose sight of the overall importance of the events. Anne Applebaum does a great job of providing the social, ethnic, political, and economic contexts for the Holodomor and building the case that Soviet authorities used I'd never read extensively about the Holodomor, but this book covers it in great detail without becoming a horrorshow of anecdotes (though there are plenty). When covering an event this terrible, it can be tempting to fall into an obsession with the awful details of starvation and lose sight of the overall importance of the events. Anne Applebaum does a great job of providing the social, ethnic, political, and economic contexts for the Holodomor and building the case that Soviet authorities used famine as a tool to punish nascent and troublesome Ukrainian nationalism.Applebaum covers the history of Ukraine from the revolution and independence through the present day, using the Holodomor as the lynchpin of modern Ukrainian national identity. She is careful about casting blame and villifying any actors involved. Many of the people who made the Soviet machine work were capable of evil actions without being evil individuals. Everyone had to consider their own survival.There were stark examples of the senseless cruelty behind policies enacted by Soviet authorities during the famine. I knew that it was a "man made famine" but did not realize the extent to which punitive food seizures went. Accounts of authorities pouring carbonic acid on garbage to prevent peasants from eating it, of destroying riverside marshland to prevent peasants from eating reed roots, of torturing people over where they had hidden stashes of food because they "shouldn't still be alive," all point to the intent behind the famine. It's a fascinating read and the epilogue ties everything together with a discussion of how the Holodomor is remembered, used, and misappropriated in the 21st century by Ukrainian and Russian politicians, in particular, to shape the narrative around Ukrainian national identity.
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  • Jon
    January 1, 1970
    DevastatingThis book has a central and very well developed point. Stalin, and the Bolshevik hierarchy that supported him, made a deliberate and systematic effort to murder millions. The reason was political and the results genocidal. Well explained and documented as to the history before, during and after the famine, her work is an indictment of devastating power. But, despite its broad reach, it does have a thesis feel to it, a sense of, Well we are going to examine just this slice" of Stalin t DevastatingThis book has a central and very well developed point. Stalin, and the Bolshevik hierarchy that supported him, made a deliberate and systematic effort to murder millions. The reason was political and the results genocidal. Well explained and documented as to the history before, during and after the famine, her work is an indictment of devastating power. But, despite its broad reach, it does have a thesis feel to it, a sense of, Well we are going to examine just this slice" of Stalin the slaughterhouse. And as an indictment, it does have a prosecutor's touch. These criticisms are perhaps a touch unfair, the ugly reality is so vast and horrible that likely no standard history could cover it. A good read and an important read, especially as today's politics unfold.
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  • Ronald J.
    January 1, 1970
    The Ukrainian famine, described as the Holodomor--combining the Ukrainian words for hunger--holod--and extermination--mor, claimed the lives of some 3.9 million Ukrainians. This scholarly history provides the details of how this was orchestrated by Stalin, from Moscow. The word genocide may have a specific legal definition, but there's no doubt this was a moral genocide perpetuated on Stalin's orders. The excuses and justifications made for this, both domestically and internationally, are appeal The Ukrainian famine, described as the Holodomor--combining the Ukrainian words for hunger--holod--and extermination--mor, claimed the lives of some 3.9 million Ukrainians. This scholarly history provides the details of how this was orchestrated by Stalin, from Moscow. The word genocide may have a specific legal definition, but there's no doubt this was a moral genocide perpetuated on Stalin's orders. The excuses and justifications made for this, both domestically and internationally, are appealing to read. Anne Applebaum has provided another excellent portrait of USSR history, often gruesome and morally repugnant, but necessary if we are to learn the lessons of history.
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  • Brittany Craig
    January 1, 1970
    I recommend this for people who have at least a general background of modern Russian history, Stalin, and genocide studies, but anyone could learn from this book. Applebaum does a great job, particularly in her epilogue, to show the reader how a famine was artificially orchestrated by Stalin to attempt to destroy Ukrainian nationalism and identity and how he failed. This is a great read for someone who still believes the narrative that collectivization was what caused famine. Applebaum will conv I recommend this for people who have at least a general background of modern Russian history, Stalin, and genocide studies, but anyone could learn from this book. Applebaum does a great job, particularly in her epilogue, to show the reader how a famine was artificially orchestrated by Stalin to attempt to destroy Ukrainian nationalism and identity and how he failed. This is a great read for someone who still believes the narrative that collectivization was what caused famine. Applebaum will convince you that this was not a full or accurate picture of the USSR policies.
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  • Nicholas Masters
    January 1, 1970
    Is it possible to rate such a comprehensive account of an extraordinary event in world history anything less than 5 stars, surely not.“Many reviewers expressed astonishment that they knew so little about such a deadly tragedy”I put my hand up; I was one of those people. Stalin, USSR, communism….. These were all words I knew about, thought I understood to some extent, but wow, my eyes have been opened. Thank you.I must admit that early on in the book I thought I had bitten off more than I can che Is it possible to rate such a comprehensive account of an extraordinary event in world history anything less than 5 stars, surely not.“Many reviewers expressed astonishment that they knew so little about such a deadly tragedy”I put my hand up; I was one of those people. Stalin, USSR, communism….. These were all words I knew about, thought I understood to some extent, but wow, my eyes have been opened. Thank you.I must admit that early on in the book I thought I had bitten off more than I can chew. Other than my last few books, it had been years since reading a non-fiction book and never have I read a historical non-fiction book. So when the build-up of events started I was not sure I would be able to make it through, but that feeling didn’t last too long, thankfully.“Starvation was the result, rather, of the forcible removal of food from people’s homes; the roadblocks that prevented peasants from seeking work or food; the harsh rules of the blacklists imposed on farms and villages; the restrictions on barter and trade; and the vicious propaganda campaign designed the persuade Ukrainians to watch, unmoved, as their neighbours died of hunger”.Wow was the world a cruel place back then, the magnitude of cruelty that human beings can impose on other human beings is sickening to say the least. Reading these events I actually can’t help but draw some parallels (in a much smaller quantities of course) of the mind set of some leaders in African countries. Thankfully the rest of the world won’t turn a blind eye, and thankfully the condemned have a lot more options. I just wish these so called leaders could learn something from History. Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Books UK for a review copy.
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  • Henri
    January 1, 1970
    You read these impossibly terrifying lines of history and feel as if you are looking at an overzealous horror fiction author on his debut trying to add extra harrowing death details to spice things up a bit more. Then the realisation hits you like a train. This was for fucking real :(
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  • Greg Holman
    January 1, 1970
    This was an insightful book. It was sad to hear about the conditions communism caused the people. The part about cannibalism was very depressing. It is interesting to see how Russia today still does similar things to its neighbors.
  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I believe this book was very well sourced, well written and it certainly connects with the reader. Not at all dry, very engaging.Anyone familiar with the history of the USSR, from 1917 onwards, will not be surprised by the actions taken by Stalin in the Ukraine. Honestly, it seemed to me to be typical of Stalin's behavior in every occupied nation. Collectivism, starvation, siphoning of local resources which were then reallocated, (often abroad) persecution of the political and intellectual class I believe this book was very well sourced, well written and it certainly connects with the reader. Not at all dry, very engaging.Anyone familiar with the history of the USSR, from 1917 onwards, will not be surprised by the actions taken by Stalin in the Ukraine. Honestly, it seemed to me to be typical of Stalin's behavior in every occupied nation. Collectivism, starvation, siphoning of local resources which were then reallocated, (often abroad) persecution of the political and intellectual classes and the subjugation of local cultures and languages. Even the effects of the famine were not unique to Ukraine, as the USSR at large was in the midst of the same one. What makes this book different is that it is a very transnational piece, written specifically about Ukraine and the USSR, beginning far before the 1932 famine. For an introductory class on Soviet history within the Iron Curtain, it would be a good starting point for the Ukraine specifically. Armchair historians who have studied little of the actions of Stalin will likely find it illuminating as well. Those who have studied the USSR in some depth, it wouldn't be a waste of time to read, if only because of the specific Ukrainian focus. Like other books on such horrific topics, the description of the famine and the famine effects are gruesome, tear-inducing and difficult to swallow. The study of history is not for the weak.
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