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Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin


Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Americans call the Second World War and#147;The Good War.and#8221; But before it even began, Americaand#8217;s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizensand#151;and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At warand#8217;s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.

Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central tragedy of modern history.


A prize-winning historian recasts the history of modern Europe around its central catastrophe: the fourteen million people killed by totalitarian regimes in the lands between Hitler and Stalin

About the Author

Timothy Snyder is Professor of History at Yale University. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and has held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, and at Harvard. His four previous books have all received awards, including the George Louis Beer Prize for The Reconstruction of Nations and the Pro Historia Polonorum for Sketches from a Secret War.


“A bold book, from a brilliant scholar who has emerged as an important voice in the fields of eastern European history, Soviet history, and Holocaust studies. This grand narrative is beautifully constructed, and written with empathy and rigor. Snyders work stands as a counterweight to the popular tendency to lump together the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as a tragic era, an age of catastrophes—without delineating distinctions between the two; without showing how different people actually suffered under the two regimes…For those who wish, for whichever reason, to exaggerate the crimes of Stalinism while minimizing those of Hitler and his collaborators, Snyder sets the record straight. He makes his case based on the latest research in Soviet, Nazi, eastern European history and Holocaust studies, impressively drawing from sources in several European languages. This is a laudable achievement, and a service to all of these fields, which still lack much in the way of cross-fertilization.”—Wendy Lower, Journal of Genocidal Research

“[An] important new history…. One of Snyders major achievements in Bloodlands is to preserve this sense of the singularity of Jewish experience, even while showing its complex relationship to the terrible experiences of the peoples among whom Jews lived.... The relationship between Jews and Communism is probably the most explosive of all the subjects Snyder addresses, and here he benefits most from the strengths he shows throughout the book—deep learning, wide compassion, and clear, careful moral judgment.... Anyone who wants to fully comprehend the Holocaust—at least, as far as it can be comprehended—should read Bloodlands, which shows how much evil had to be done in order to make the ultimate evil possible.”—Adam Kirsch, Tablet

“Snyders revisionist history describes how about 14 million people died in the lands between Germany and the Soviet Union, giving a fresh take on the tragedies that occurred during World War II.”—Roll Call

“[An] important new work of history… Snyder offers a powerful reminder that the true killing fields of the Holocaust were in German-occupied territories in the east… Snyder [is] a walking encyclopedia of arresting facts and conclusive figures… In Bloodlands Snyder locates the Holocaust alongside other atrocities in an all-embracing single scheme…Snyder is perhaps the most talented younger historian of modern Europe working today. Astonishingly prolific, [Snyder] grounds his work in authoritative mastery of the facts, mining tomes of information in multiple languages and brilliantly synthesizing his findings. At the very least, Bloodlands is valuable for its astounding narrative integration of a gruesome era of European history…. A preternaturally gifted prose stylist, [Snyder] strives for a moral urgency appropriate to his depressing topics, and he rarely succumbs to bathos…By any measure Bloodlands is a remarkable, even triumphant accomplishment… Ultimately, Snyders main achievement is his juxtaposition of two homicidal regimes to make a point so well as to make it unanswerable, when not long ago it still elicited howls of outrage for trivializing the unique fate or special honor of particular victims.”—Samuel Moyn, The Nation

“Part of the freshness of Bloodlands is that it flips around our traditional viewpoint on the Second World War and the years that led up to it: Instead of seeing the conflict from the top down, as a struggle between powers, it begins with the perspective of the victims and those who were closest to the murder…There will continue to be intense arguments about the extent to which the crimes of Hitler and Stalin can, or should, be seen in the same light. But there is one thing we can know unequivocally: For the victims, there was no difference.”—Gal Beckerman, Boston Globe

“Statistics are an important part of Mr. Snyders narrative, but he does not forget that every number was once a human being…. This book is a grim but important read.”—Washington Times

“To us in the West, the horrors of World War II are associated with the names of Auschwitz, Iwo Jima and Hiroshima. Without denying the significance of these places, Snyder, an immensely talented historian at Yale University, radically alters our understanding of the mass murder that went on during these years by showing in convincing fashion where and how most victims met their end. Bloodlands overflows with startling facts and revelations…. In a conclusion that should be required reading for all, Snyder addresses the moral questions raised by this murderous history with insight and recognition of the shades of culpability that make it difficult at times to neatly separate victims from perpetrators. He also shines much-needed light on the dangers of ‘competitive martyrology of the recent past, as the nations of the bloodlands have tried to claim greatest victim status.”—Seattle Times

“Snyder presents material that is undeniably fresh – whats more, it comes from sources in languages with which very few western academics are familiar. The success of Bloodlands really lies in its effective presentation of cold, hard scholarship, which is in abundance.”—The Financial Times

“Solid and judicious scholarship.”—Booklist

“A chillingly systematic study of the mass murder mutually perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany…. A significant work of staggering figures and scholarship.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An impeccably researched history…. One of the great strengths of Snyders book is that it brings back to life some of the forgotten voices of those who died in the ‘bloodlands. The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, but Snyder reconnects the broad narrative of eastern Europes unparalleled tragedy with its intimate impact on the lives of individuals.”—Irish Times (London)

“This book will revolutionize how any reader thinks about the mid-20th century.... Snyder manages two difficult tasks at the same time. He examines a frequently investigated period and casts it in an entirely new light. He also sheds light on underexamined historical events while putting them through the prism of a region – Eastern Europe – where history frequently produces few witnesses while it unfolds.... Bloodlands is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in 20th-century history, and even more so for those interested in how historical narratives are established and maintained. Snyders examinations of the past will be worth following in the years to come.”—The Prague Post (Czech Republic)

“Deeply arresting and provocative.”—Washington Monthly

“A must-read for anyone interested in the history of Eastern Europe.”—Anna Porter, Globe and Mail (Canada)

“A brilliant, important and highly original look at a swath of territory that includes not only Poland but also Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states.”—The Jewish Journal

“[A] striking and important new book… Snyder writes with a boldness that will make some people uncomfortable. He questions the usefulness of the word genocide, and prefers the term "mass killing". By putting what Stalin did in the context of Hitler's Final Solution…Snyder does not engage in a facile search for equivalents; his arguments are carefully restricted in scope. What he shows is how Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union created a mutually reinforcing dynamic that resulted in the deaths of 14 million people in Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Belarus.”—The National (Abu Dhabi)

“A bold, brilliant, discomfiting book which seeks to juxtapose the Nazi and Soviet horrors of the mid-20th century and place them within the same narrative. Concentrating on the areas where those two regimes overlapped and competed, namely Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine and Byelorussia – the ‘Bloodlands of the title – Snyder gives a human face to the countless victims of totalitarianism. It is a timely, authoritative and well-written book, which – for me – is easily the history highlight of the year.”—Roger Moorhouse, History Today (London)

“Timothy Snyder has written a nuanced, original and penetrating analysis of Europes twentieth century killing fields between Russia and Germany, drawing on many little-known sources. History of a high order, Bloodlands may also point us towards lessons for our own time.”—Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford, and author of The File

“Nearly seventy years after VE-Day, World War Two continues to be perceived through a narrow Western perspective, and many basic problems about the war of 1939-45 remain unresolved. In Bloodlands – which refers to the huge belt of territory between Germany and Russia – Timothy Snyder examines the little known tract of the European continent that was scourged by Stalin as well as Hitler, and reaches some disturbing conclusions. Combining formidable linguistic and detective skills with a fine sense of impartiality, he tackles vital questions which have deterred less courageous historians: Where and when were the largest casualties inflicted? Who were the perpetrators, and which ethnic and national groups were victimized? How can one calculate and verify the numbers? This is a book which will force its readers to rethink history.”—Professor Norman Davies

“For over a decade in the middle of the twentieth century, the lands between Russia and Germany were the killing fields of Europe. Tens of millions of civilians from Poland to Ukraine, Lithuania to Belarus were starved, beaten, shot and gassed to death by the authorities and armies of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. We think we know this story and we assign it shorthand labels: Auschwitz, the Gulag. In his path-breaking and often courageous study of Europes ‘bloodlands, Timothy Snyder shows how very much more complicated the story was. His account of the methods and motives of murderous regimes, both at home and in foreign war, will radically revise our appreciation of the implications of mass extermination in the recent past. Bloodlands – impeccably researched and appropriately sensitive to its volatile material – is the most important book to appear on this subject for decades and will surely become the reference in its field.”—Tony Judt, author of Postwar and Ill Fares the Land

“No other historian could have written this book.”—Professor Terry Martin, Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

“The most definitive book ever written on the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin…Its one of the most shocking books I have ever read in my life…written by a genius, Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale. This is a really amazing book…I thought Id seen it all, heard it all—I didnt.”—Michael Savage, New York Times bestselling author and host of The Michael Savage Show

“Meticulously researched and ambitious in scope, Bloodlands provides an engrossing, if highly disturbing, account of some of the greatest evils of the twentieth century.”—Ethics and International Affairs

“In page after grueling page, Snyder depicts the pogrom that erupted across the Bloodlands. After all these years, after all the histories, there are still details that appall…. In an interesting twist, Snyder reveals how the usual Western understanding of the Holocaust, centered on the almost clinical danse macabre of deportation and eventual extermination in a camp far from Paris, Amsterdam, or Rome, fails to reflect the more typical experience to the east.”—National Review Online

“[A] masterful history…. Snyder forces many of us to change the way we understand the Second World War.”—Macleans (Toronto)

“[Bloodlands] examines some of the most devastating collective memories of the modern world. With scholarly rigour and engaging prose, [Snyder] seeks to explain both the causes and effects of the two most daunting mass murderers of the 20th century.”—The Economist, Prospero blog

Bloodlands is an uncomfortable read because of its subject matter… The book is well written and will be important to all who study the history of the middle third of the 20th century—years that were soaked in blood.”—The Federal Lawyer

“[The] linking of Hitler and Stalin marks the groundbreaking part of Snyders book. Many others have argued for this coupling of these like-minded mad men, but no other author that I know of has analyzed it as relentlessly as Snyder. He examines almost every facet of this twisted relationship, along the way adding to our understanding of the Soviet famines, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (also known as the Hitler-Stalin pact) and the true nature of Stalins anti-Semitism.”—Robert Leiter, The Jewish Exponent

“Snyders book forces us to frame the Holocaust within a wider landscape of genocidal policies by both the Nazis and the Soviets without diminishing the uniqueness of Hitlers war against the Jews.”—Jewish Book World

“In Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, author Timothy Snyder takes a broader, forward-looking and potentially controversial new look at the most devastating period of murder and mass destruction in human history…. A chilling and instructive story of how 14 million unarmed men, women and children were murdered.”—Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa)

“Timothy Snyders thesis, boldly spelled out in this book, and argued with great precision, is that the recent history of central Europe can be appreciated in its right colours only if it is understood as the result of the interaction between these two great empires…. [Bloodlands] combines great rigour and passionate engagement with the texture of the time it treats. It conveys the mood of an era, it gives the keys that make terrifying event-sequences comprehensible.”—Weekend Australian (Australia)

“An important book…. An impressively coherent narrative.”—Canadian Jewish News

“We see the dilemmas and horrors facing those who inhabited the bloodlands – how they survived, collaborated, resisted, loved, hoped, watched, lived and died. [Snyder] tears the historical narrative from the hands of Stalin and Hitler, and places it in the hands of the victims. This is all underscored by Snyders powerful prose: He is not only a skilled historian, who brings together hundreds of sources in several languages, but also a sharp and moving writer.”—The Kyiv Post (Kyiv)

Bloodlands deserves to be read. It is instructive history in every sense of the word.”—Winnipeg Free Press (Winnipeg, Canada)

“Timothy Snyders Bloodlands is not a book whose time has come; it is a book whose time is long overdue. The sooner this volume is absorbed by a wide East European readership, the more likely real headway will be made in ‘resetting some of the regions most enduringly acrimonious bilateral relationships.”—The Moscow News (Moscow)

“[Snyders] literary scholarship teaches on a subject the world can not afford to forget. Make the time and take the patience to read his book. You will be greatly rewarded by the promise that knowledge brings.”—The Exchange (Spokane, WA)

Bloodlands is based on quite extraordinary scholarly labor, carried out in sixteen archives and a half-dozen languages. The result is a meticulous description of mass murder presented in restrained, almost clinical prose whose power comes from the gradual, relentless accumulation of horrific detail.… [A] monumental work, the product of a scholars humane and tireless efforts to recapture what remains of those millions of men, women, and children who were murdered during Europes darkest hours.”—Commonweal

“[A] stunning historical inquiry into the wholesale slaughter of 14 million people by the Hitler and Stalin regimes.”—Business Insider

“A powerful and chilling history…. [Bloodlands] provides a new perspective on the sheer madness and ruthlessness with which the two totalitarian dictators, Hitler and Stalin, dispensed with human lives on a scale unprecedented in the annals of human brutality.”—Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Snyder has written a painstakingly researched book which manages to strike a balance between superb scholarship and gut-churning drama. To say that the horrors depicted in this book demand a strongly gifted storyteller is an understatement. By combing archives, depicting the victims as individuals and not numbers or statistics, and by exposing the interior motives of both Hitler and Stalin, Snyder has produced a unique work, something brand-new, riveting and monumental.”—The Wichita Eagle

“Start at the beginning of Bloodlands, or open to any page and choose any paragraph and you will immediately become captivated and engrossed in something terrible, in the unconscionable and depraved acts of two ambitious leaders and their followers…. In turns engaging, remarkable, and horrific, Snyder has included many passages and snippets from the victims journals, from accounts of survivors, from news reports of the time, and from personal letters…. Snyder weaves these accounts into a story that is both an alarming account of the decision making process inside Hitlers and Stalins regime, and a wrenching narrative of the people who inhabited Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic republics during World War II.”—Kindle Daily Post

“Surveying a time and subject that has been studied, dramatized, and argued about perhaps more thoroughly than any other in history, Bloodlands is an incredibly original work. It seeks to redirect our understanding of the Holocaust as primarily an eastern phenomenon, and one which took place among a spate of mass killing policies…. With this magisterial book, [Snyder] has rendered the Holocaust, and the horrors that preceded and accompanied it, their rightful place.”—Policy Review

Bloodlands, is in a class of its own, a real blockbuster that profoundly reconfigures our understanding of World War II and the 1930s…. A triumph of measured writing and sound judgment…. The story is brilliantly accessible—clear, compelling, lively, and sparkling with insights…. Bloodlands is the perfect companion for the scholar and student of mid-twentieth-century Europe. Accessible and extraordinarily comprehensive, it will be widely read and cited as the standard work.”—Michigan War Studies Review

“An important, carefully researched and compelling story, well told…. The numbers and the narrative are gripping. But Snyder's great strength is bringing home the humanity that was being destroyed.”—Concord Monitor

“[Bloodlands] brilliantly examines how government policies in Berlin and Moscow led to unimaginable suffering and death for millions in Eastern Europe…. Throughout Bloodlands, Snyder brings a considerable intelligence to bear as he deftly illustrates the horror and misery of the Nazi and Soviet systems in their quest for social perfection.”—Deseret Morning News

Bloodlands…reassures us that the pursuit of authentic Holocaust consciousness is still flourishing in the scholarly community, with no end in sight.”—The Jewish Daily Forward

“Many books are useful; a handful can be called important; Bloodlands does no less than change the way we think of 20th century history, and of the deadly human cost of the totalitarian utopianism that was among its most distinctive characteristics…. Bloodlands is a wrenching, enlightening, moving, and intellectually challenging examination of the most compelling and painful topic of 20th century history. Few who study it carefully will be able to forget Timothy Snyders masterly autopsy of the fourteen million times one human beings destroyed in the name of the totalitarian dystopia.”—The Polish Review

“Ambitious…. Bloodlands seeks to fit the Holocaust into an appropriate historical context by examining the struggle between the Third Reich and the USSR from the perspective of the civilian populations caught in between.”—Slavic Review

“[A] popular history of the highest order. Not only does Snyder effectively relate the motivations behind Stalins and Hitlers crimes, but he also exhibits a capable eye for the telling detail. The numerous stories of individuals who suffered in the ‘bloodlands humanize the carnage perpetrated in the name of the Stalinist and National Socialist ideologies. This is, perhaps, Snyders most noteworthy accomplishment.”—Choice

“[Bloodlands] throws a great deal of light on the policies shared by Hitler and Stalin, especially starvation as a form of ethnic cleansing. It is a horrifying story but the wider emphasis should do much to give readers a more accurate understanding than is often presented.”—Contemporary Review (Oxford)

“[An] instant classic….[Snyder] dispenses much little-known history.”—Foreign Policy in Focus

Table of Contents

Introduction: Hitler and Stalin

1. The Soviet Famines

2. Class Terror

3. National Terror

4. Molotov-Ribbentrop Europe

5. The Economics of Apocalypse

6. Final Solution

7. Holocaust and Revenge

8. The Nazi Death Factories

9. Resistance and Incineration

10. Ethnic Cleansings

11. Stalinist Anti-Semitism

Conclusion: Humanity

Product Details

Snyder, Timothy
Basic Books (AZ)
Military - World War II
Military-World War II General
Europe - General
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 13
35 maps
9.25 x 6.13 in
Age Level:
from 18 up to 110

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Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin New Trade Paper
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Product details 560 pages Basic Books (AZ) - English 9780465031474 Reviews:
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A prize-winning historian recasts the history of modern Europe around its central catastrophe: the fourteen million people killed by totalitarian regimes in the lands between Hitler and Stalin
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