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Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956by Anne Applebaum
Synopses & Reviews
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.
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.
“One of the most compelling but also serious works on Europe’s past to appear in recent memory.…In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity.” Washington Post
“In this epic but intimate history, Ms. Applebaum offers us windows into the lives of the men and sometimes women who constructed the police states of Eastern Europe. She gives us a glimpse of those who resisted. But she also gives us a harrowing portrait of the rest — the majority of Eastern Europe's population, who, having been caught up in the continent's conflicts time and time again, now found themselves pawns in a global one.” Wall Street Journal
“Remarkable…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….Iron Curtain gives us some idea of what it was like to be trapped in the Soviet experiment, to be a witness to the demolition and reconstruction of one’s environment.” Louis Menand, The New Yorker
“Bracing, important…Applebaum is unafraid of complexity; she traffics in exceptions. She names names.…Iron Curtain is essential reading.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Illuminating…Human beings, as Ms Applebaum rousingly concludes, do not acquire ‘totalitarian personalities’ with ease.” The Economist
"A meticulously researched and riveting account of the totalitarian mind-set and its impact on the citizens of East Germany, Poland and Hungary....Even as it documents the consequences of force, fear and intimidation, however, Iron Curtain also provides evidence of resistance and resilience." Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Iron Curtain is a superb, revisionistic, brilliantly perceptive, often witty, totally gripping history, filled with colorful character sketches of Stalinist monsters, based on Soviet and local archives, on hundreds of interviews with survivors, and on the widest reading, that tells the dramatic, unknown and terrifying story of the Stalinization of eastern Europe….The book is full of things I didn’t know — but should have.” Simon Sebag Montefiore, London Evening Standard
“Magisterial…Anne Applebaum is exceptionally well qualified to tell [this story]. Her deep knowledge of the region, breadth of view and eye for human detail makes this as readable as her last book, on the Gulag.” Orlando Figes, Daily Mail
National Book Award Finalist
TIME Magazine's #1 Nonfiction Book of 2012
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2012
Best Nonfiction of 2012: The Wall Street Journal, The Plain Dealer
In the much-anticipated 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. Iron Curtain describes how, spurred by Stalin and his secret police, the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. Drawing on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time, Applebaum portrays in chilling 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. As a result the Soviet Bloc became a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in these electrifying pages.
About the Author
Anne Applebaum is a columnist for The Washington Post and Slate. Her previous book, Gulag, won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction and was a finalist for three other major prizes. Her essays appear in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and The Spectator. She is married to Radek Sikorski, the Polish Foreign Minister.
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