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Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 [Kindle Edition]

Anne Applebaum
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Booklist

Applebaum’s Gulag received a 2004 Pulitzer Prize, an accolade that accords prominence on her new, groundbreaking investigation of the history of communism. Examining Stalin’s imposition of totalitarian regimes on Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet zone of Germany, Applebaum depicts Communist parties that were remorselessly successful in destroying opposition but that failed to win widespread popular support. An interesting motif in Applebaum’s history is the awareness by Communist leaders of civil society’s rejection of Stalinist socialism, demonstrated by the communists’ losses in somewhat unfettered postwar elections. After redressing that problem with rigged polls and mini gulags, the regimes strove to improve communist ideology’s attractiveness through propaganda, mass demonstrations, socialist realism in art, and model communist cities. Some people became convinced supporters, but most did not and survived through personal compromises with communism. The latter’s individual stories, drawn from interviews and research into those suppressed by state security, infuse Applebaum’s account with perplexing human interest. What made for a collaborator, a true believer, a dissident? A masterful chronicle and analysis, Applebaum’s work is a history-shelf necessity. --Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • File Size: 12127 KB
  • Print Length: 610 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0771007639
  • Publisher: Anchor (October 30, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007WKE3GS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,280 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
290 of 308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Evils and Brutalities of Communism October 30, 2012
Format:Hardcover
As a child living in Romania, I remember that my parents used to do everything so that the infamous Securitate would pry into our lives as little as possible. In the sixties, the Romanian dictator Dej did everything in order to please his Russian masters. His menu included a variety of things, such as beatings, torture, incarcerations, threats, illegal deportations and the suppression of human rights.Mind you, I was not even allowed to take with me my violin, since it was considered "state property".
During my university days, I decided to specialize in the history of the Cold War. Surprisingly, there were many revisionist books and other similar monographs which-up to the fall of Communism-painted a very rosy picture of the Communist "paradise". In fact, some scholars were sure that Communism had its bad points, but capitalism and its ideology represented by America were worse.
Enter Anne Applebaum's book, which totally destroys and naive theories of the revisionist scholars one by one. "Iron Curtain" explains in very simple words to what degree all the countries in Eastern Europe experienced the brutal process of becoming totalitarian states as ordered by Big Brother Stalin. As she claims, this process was a gradual one and did not happen overnight. Neither was it uniform everywhere.
By writing about more than fifteen relevant topics, Ms. Applebaum describes in great detail how tens of millions of people experienced the most terrible regimes known in that geographical part of Europe. She explains how, for example, political parties, the church, the young people, the radio and the economy of those countries were doomed from the very end of World War 2.
The book is divided into two parts:"False Dawn" and "High Stalinism". The first part is about the consolidation of the regimes.
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142 of 156 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Makes the case--and I mean that literally. December 14, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I greatly admired Ms. Applebaum's "Gulag", and was looking forward to reading this work. She has done an excellent job of research--thorough, painstaking, a work of great scholarship from beginning to end. And the story she tells is fascinating and tremendously informative.

But that said, I had to stop about halfway through--I simply grew weary of reading it. When I titled this review "makes the case", I am saying that I feel it reads like a grand jury indictment rather than a history. I am not speaking about her writing style, which is excellent, but in terms of how she organized the book. The story is handled chronologically, and within that framework she breaks it down into subject areas as they apply to each of the three nations she chose to study. But this leads to a litany of repression that becomes tedious after a while: Here's what they did to the civic groups. Here's how they crushed the opposition parties. Here's what they did to the churches. Here's what they did to youth. Here's what they did to dissidents, and so on. By the middle of the book, I was saying to myself, "OK, OK, I get the point. I see what they did and how they did it." Notwithstanding her use of individual "witnesses", the ultimate effect is to detach the reader emotionally from the frightening story of how the Soviets imposed their hegemony. It might have also been more interesting to delve a bit further into the biographies of Ulbricht, Rakosi, Bierut, and their cohorts, rather than treating them somewhat superficially as slightly different species of the same animal. And although she criticizes "revisionist" histories, she does not (as far as I can tell) offer any alternative explanation for Stalin's expansionism.
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83 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The party is always right ! November 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This review is about the 656 pages version printed in England, by a subsidiary of Penguin Press, written by Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer prize winning "Gulag: A history of the Soviet Camps."
The sheer size and scope of the book give pause to the casual reader but this is mitigated by the author's elegant prose and ability for descriptive details. The reader is not spared from the horrors of war illustrated by the unremitting violence, unmitigated brutality, wholesale rape, mass murder, abject poverty, deadly starvation and theft - events that led to mass dislocation and homelessness of massive populations within Europe by the end of world War ll - and became the fertile ground for the spread of false hope by the communists. These events are well described in the first half of the book, "False Dawn".

The second part, "High Stalinism", is a vivid description of the betrayal of the so-called "communist ideal" by Stalin and his minions based mostly on personal interviews and original source document research by the author. Applebaum depicts the subjugation on Eastern European countries through persecution, mass deportation, bogus trials, trumped-up accusations of treason and sedition and the summary arrests, torture and execution of dissidents. Civil administrations and societies were destroyed, religion was outlawed and churches persecuted - as demonstrated by Stalin's edict to.. "Isolate the Catholic hierarchy...Separate the Vatican from the believers....Control all the churches by December 1949".. at the Cominform meeting in Karlsbad in 1949.

Planted throughout the eighteen chapters, are the stories of individuals, such as Benda in East Germany, Supka and Bien in Hungary who were persecuted by communist regimes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Evil of Communism
A very fascinating account of how the Soviets forced themselves on Eastern Europe following WWII and uprooted and manipulated millions of people just trying to rebuild their lives... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Bryn C. Dunham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Wonderfully written, very captivating, and extremely informative. Great read for anyone interested in the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe after WWII and the destructive Soviet... Read more
Published 2 days ago by O. Khalil
5.0 out of 5 stars A close escape
A most impressive book describing the communist conquest of Europe . The Soviet Union seems to have collapsed centuries ago, but such

a book remains essential reading to... Read more
Published 6 days ago by bernard classic
3.0 out of 5 stars Very informative
Lengthy and repetitive but details the immense effort by Soviet style communists to transform societies into totalitarian, all embracing models of conformity.
Published 9 days ago by Jobasaa
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Scholarly pursuit.
Published 10 days ago by Bill and Carol Nielsen
4.0 out of 5 stars An Impressively Detailed Account
This incredibly researched account of post WWII Eastern Europe is a fascinating read and a real eye opener. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Laurie Berger
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent picture of the Soviet machinery and detailed description of...
Excellent picture of the Soviet machinery and detailed description of the system that crashed people and society. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Gints Jegermanis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book well deserves the enthusiastic reviews I had read before I ordered it.
Published 15 days ago by Robert C. Sellers
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a first generation descendant of eastern European refugees who ...
I'm a first generation descendant of eastern European refugees who got out in the early 50s. Went a few times my self before age 11. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Spatially Mapped
5.0 out of 5 stars Totalitarianism exposed
A truly monumental effort to collate facts, interviews and archived material into a very readable account of those years in Eastern Europe. Read more
Published 16 days ago by LARRY
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More About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a historian and journalist. She is a regular columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and a regular contributor to the New Republic, the New York Review of Books and the Spectator, among others. She also runs the Transitions Forum at the Legatum Institute in London, and in 2012-2013 held the Phillipe Roman chair in History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics. Her book, Gulag: A History, won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain, won the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature. Both books were nominated for the National Book Award.
Anne has been writing about Eastern Europe and Russia since 1989, when she covered the collapse of communism in Poland for the Economist magazine. She is married to Radoslaw Sikorski, a Polish politician and writer, and lives in Poland and Britain.

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