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

Anne Applebaum
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $6.11 (34%)
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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
273 of 291 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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129 of 142 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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79 of 88 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 An important book!
In our western world we take freedom for granted- it's not so long ago that freedom was not self- evident in many parts of Europe; it's important to not forget that!
Published 7 days ago by Dr. med dent N. Angelus
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but inferior copy editing
It is probably nitpicking a beautifully-written and presented book (hence my 5 stars) to complain about the copy editing, but whoever was in charge of that did a major disservice... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Gary W. Shanafelt
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to understand recent past and contemporary and present...
Because the author told the truth about that era, a time in history that must be clearly and entirely recorded. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Ginette Vachon
3.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously Researched
This is an informative and meticulously researched account of the spread of Communism to Eastern Europe, primarily in the years after WWII. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Erez Davidi
5.0 out of 5 stars Veil of Iron
Anne Applebaum’s "Iron Curtain - The Crushing of Eastern Europe" is a well written account of the systematic indoctrination of populations into submission to the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Vilnis Neilands
4.0 out of 5 stars End of WWII from the Eastern Europe perspective
Really interesting to see the end of WWII from the Eastern Europe perspective. I had never thought of it before. It wasn't the start of peace for those people. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jane Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the 2nd half much more than the 1st
Ultimately not as good as I anticipated. I have been reading history and biography a long time now, and I've become used to the rather linear way of telling a story these types of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jason Russell
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Research; Mediocre Structure
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,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Frank Berger
5.0 out of 5 stars The failure of the left
Ann Applebaum explains in detail ,why the communists failed in eastern europe. It was not liberation ,but military occupation. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SW lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Research, Excellent Writing, And Excellently Argued
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anne Mills
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More About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, covering U.S. and international politics. She also runs a program on global transitions 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, as well as Britain's Duff-Cooper Prize. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain, was nominated for a 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 met her husband, Radek Sikorski,when they drove to Berlin together to cover the fall of the Wall. He is currently the Polish Foreign Minister. They have two children.

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