HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern…
Loading...

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Anne Applebaum

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
384None27,860 (4.24)53
Member:RobertP
Title:Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956
Authors:Anne Applebaum
Info:Doubleday (2012), Hardcover, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 by Anne Applebaum (2012)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 53 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A good introductory book for those possessing an interest but little prior knowledge of communism and communist regimes of the former Easter Bloc countries of East Germany, Poland, and Hungary. I admire Applebaum's unequivocal condemnation of communism in the book, but felt her criticism and insights into the oppression and atrocities behind the Iron Curtain did not probe deep enough at times. Also, though the book is well-written in a technical sense, it often fails to engage. Part of this may be due to the structure and organization of Iron Curtain. One of Applebaum's aims in the book is to demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, East Germany, Poland, and Hungary did not have a shared experience of communism. Even though they all fell under Soviet control at the same time, they had less in common in their experience of communism than is commonly assumed. In order to prove this assertion, Applebaum chooses a topic, say education, then explores the similarities and differences within the three countries. Unfortunately, she maintains this rather rudimentary organizational structure, with little or no variation, through the entire book. The sophomoric compare-and-contrast format does not do justice to either the subject-matter or the extensive research that went into the writing. After the first part, the book, despite its fascinating subject matter, became a chore to read. Nevertheless, it is still a valuable contribution to the subject and I would recommend it to those interested in history and also those who still harbor ridiculous beliefs about the soundness and necessity of Marxism. ( )
  FBerger | Mar 12, 2014 |
bookshelves: fraudio, lifestyles-deathstyles, nonfiction, spring-2014, published-2012, cold-war, slavic, tbr-busting-2014, totalitarian, military-maneuvers, newtome-author, history, bullies, casual-violence, gangsters, recreational-homicide, rid-the-world-of-tyrants
Read from March 02 to 04, 2014

rosado mp3

Description: At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.

Cassandra Campbell reads

I encounter this as a salute to Ukraine.

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”― Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays

Crossposted:
Wordpress
Booklikes
LeafMark
Librarything
aNobii ( )
  mimal | Mar 4, 2014 |
In this book, Anne Applebaum presents overwhelming evidence that the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe after WW2 was just that -- a carefully planned and brutally executed Soviet program. This isn't exactly new news. But she presents the story in a new way, framing it in the institutions of totalitarianism, and ticking off one by one the areas in which the USSR reshaped (or destroyed) institutions in eastern European countries to produce states modeled on the USSR itself. Unquestionable, she has a strongly anti-communist view. Her evidence, however, is so compelling that this view becomes a very convincing narrative of what happened, and how it happened. Moreover, she writes very well, so that what could have been an important but turgid framework for footnotes becomes a powerful narrative. For me, her compelling arguments and her crushing pile of evidence moved at least this reader away from the standard old liberal view of "well, yeah, but the U.S. did lots of bad things too". What happened in Eastern Europe was not an accident, and it didn't reflect the wishes of most of the people in the region. The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, after reading this account of its beginnings, looks like a very good thing indeed. ( )
  annbury | Feb 5, 2014 |
Following on from her book 'Gulag' a few years ago, this is an excellent & comprehensive history of the Sovietisation of the countries behind the Iron Curtain, particularly Poland, Hungary & East German. From the end of WWII Applebaum shows how the Soviets overtook the media, the introduced a secret police forces, destroyed democracy, undertook massive Ethnic cleansing, and corrupted the youth - all before screwing up the economy (which is all very unMarxist, as superstructure here precedes base). She then described the dreary at best, brutal at best life under Communism, before looking at the various revolutions in the 1950s. Fascinating, informative and extrememly well researched & written. ( )
  marek2010 | Jan 9, 2014 |
A comprehensive account of the imposition of communism on countries in Eastern Europe, Applebaum's history posits the strategies and tactics used by the Soviet Union and its in-country collaborators (principally focusing on East Germany, Poland and Hungary) that installed Soviet brand communism in those nations.

While the Soviet military presence was a determinant reality in these countries, and certainly the constant backdrop behind implanting communism and assuring its dominance, it was the measures employed to control civil institutions that was key to political success. Applebaum describes how the communist camp took control of the police, youth-oriented institutions, the media and economic development to stymie all opposition. She describes its repressive, but cautious, efforts to deal with religious institutions and personages. While allowing some opposing entities in the early years, and phony inconsequential non-party groups later, it was the pervasive, trans-societal capture of these institutions that stifled meaningful opposition. One gets the sense of the futility, often grounded in fear, that neutralized any efforts to advocate for alternatives. The brutality and repressive measures against opponents played a huge role in dissuading resistance. This reminds us, importantly, that totalitarian societies do not need to win over people's thinking, just, by whatever means, their willingness to act. Applebaum draws our attention also to the cult of personality so much a part of Stalin's rule and mirrored by the Eastern European leaders. This is so discordant with our western liberal way of skepticism and overt criticism of our leaders that it jars and amazes.

One is fascinated, though, by the reality that many people deeply believed in and supported the social, political and economic tenets of communism; beyond the vision of the elites there needed to be an apparatus that functioned well enough to maintain control. We must note that the appeal of communism as a reaction to real class-based inequities of capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the horrific experiences stemming from fascism, was compelling to many people. That the practices of Soviet-style communism massively failed to improve the lives of the majority of people rendered it completely unsuited to replacing the market-oriented political systems in the West. The moral corruption that could be seen in the worst of capitalism surfaced, albeit in a different form, under communism. This in the end was the undoing of communist rule in Eastern Europe as it was ultimately in the Soviet Union.

This is somewhat of a slow read because of its detail and length. It ends in 1956 with the Hungarian revolt so perhaps there's another volume in the offing. One can't imagine a more complete history of the experience of the Eastern bloc than produced by Anne Appelbaum. ( )
  stevesmits | Oct 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The Polish story is the heart of Anne Applebaum’s remarkable book, “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe” (Doubleday), a book that reanimates a world that was largely hidden from Western eyes, and that many people who lived and suffered in it would prefer to forget.

 
Applebaum writes movingly and with insight into the “tiny compromises” made by ordinary people, not to say the terrors they faced. She uses the stories of everyday life, gleaned from a huge range of sources and interviews, to show how tyranny insinuates itself into societies and how people learnt to survive. Applebaum takes us into the dark heart of totalitarianism.
 
In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity. Those who know little of Europe behind the Iron Curtain will find themselves edified; those who know much will learn much more. 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.
 
A Russian woman who visited East Germany in 1986 on a Soviet school trip described to me recently how their East German official hosts explained the Berlin wall as a necessary defence against the hordes of West Germans who wished to storm into East Germany to escape West German economic misery and join in East Germany's success. And she and her 13-year-old Soviet friends had at the time no reason to doubt this, never in their lives having been told anything different. The eventual complete collapse of communism in eastern Europe has naturally tended to focus subsequent attention on its shambolic and incompetent aspects; but its effectiveness as a system of thought control should not be underestimated......
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Anatol Lieven (Oct 26, 2012)
 
Iron Curtain is modern history writing at its very best; assiduously researched, it wears its author's considerable erudition lightly. Pending large-scale revelations from still-closed Soviet archives, it sets a new benchmark for the study of this vitally important subject.
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
The loss of freedeom, tyranny, abuse, hunger would all have been easier to bear if not for the compulsion to call them freedom, justice, the good of the people . . . Lies, by their very nature partial and ephemeral, are revealed as lies when confronted with language's striving for truth. But here all the means of disclosure had been permanently confiscated by the police.
- Aleksander Wat, My Century
Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them. For this reason, however, they must live within a lie. - Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless
Dedication
This book is dedicated to those Eastern Europeans who refused to live within a lie.
First words
(Introduction) Among many other things, the year 1945 marked one of the most extraordinary population movements in European history.
Explosions echoed throughout the night, and artillery fire could be heard throughout the day.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385515693, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: The gulags. The show trials. The boot stamping on a human face. These trappings of postwar totalitarianism have stayed in our collective memory--brutal and terrifying, yes, but after more than 50 years, also so detached from their context that they’ve almost become political bogeymen. Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain is a powerful attempt to show that totalitarianism was more than just its most public excesses. A complement to such big-picture histories as Tony Judt’s Postwar, this book is concerned with the details of totalitarian rule: the diaspora of party enforcers from the USSR to the rest of the Soviet Bloc; the sudden takeover of radio stations, universities, and youth groups by partisans; the conflicted response of Catholic leaders to Stalin’s methods. Thanks to Applebaum’s extensive interviews and archival research, Iron Curtain ensures that the everyday experiences of those in the Soviet Bloc will endure, even if they soon pass beyond living memory. --Darryl Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gulag," acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
72 wanted4 pay2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.24)
0.5
1
1.5
2 1
2.5 1
3 1
3.5 4
4 25
4.5 4
5 17

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,493,102 books! | Top bar: Always visible