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Let History Judge Revised and Expanded ed. Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231063517
ISBN-10: 0231063512
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This weighty--physically and emotionally--book speaks volumes about the play of individual and group memory in a totalitarian society. It grew from notebooks and files secretly kept by the Russian historian Roy Medvedev on the history of his times, from the emergence of Josef Stalin as a leader in the 1917 Revolution to the dictator's death in 1953. Some of the documents Medvedev gathered, including memoranda on secret agreements with Nazi Germany, shocked Russian readers when these notebooks first began to appear in 1988, and his book became one of the primary documents of glasnost.

From Library Journal

Justifiably, Medvedev, the great Marxist historian, has called this book "the main work of my life." His conclusions remain substantially the same as the first edition of this volume ( LJ 1/15/72). Stalin's terror was a "deliberate policy and not the results of some persecution mania"; he was possessed by "limitless ambition and limited ability," and was supported by "a majority of the Soviet people . . . backward enough to be deceived." Some may feel the author fails to connect all this to Soviet socialism today. Nevertheless, the new edition's strength lies in the voluminous new testimony and findings, such as the assertion that in 1934 Stalin's poor physical health caused Politboro "to name a possible successor Kirov." Indispensable for larger Soviet collections.
- Zachary T. Irwin, Behrend Coll., Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 891 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Revised and Expanded ed. edition (May 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231063512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231063517
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,551,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The original version of this book, published in 1972 by Alfred A Knopf, reflects the thinking of historian Roy A Medvedev in the period of August 1962 to August 1968. The revised and expanded 1989 version must first be examined in light of the original.

The original was translated by Colleen Taylor and edited by David Joravsky of Northwestern University. Medvedev couldn't get published in the USSR, and this work thus first appeared in the West. It was written primarily during the transition from Khrushev's anti-Stalinist reforms to Brezhnev's immanent social-imperialism.

August 1968 is also the month of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslavakia and the defeat of Dubcek's "socialism with a human face." This is also the period of Mao's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Stalin was as evil as Hitler, yet he rose to power in the first Socialist state. The Second World War played itself out as one totalitarian dictatorship in a death struggle with another, yet Stalin ended up through the course of events as an ally of the democratic and capitalist Anglo-American West in its life-or-death struggle against fascism.

Totalitarianism turns out to have been the big infatuation of the twentieth century intelligentsia. Medvedev represents Russia's awakening from this plague. He is wrong about so much, yet for his age he was so far ahead of his times.

This book is a classic, and I believe the original should be the preferred version. Stalin's terror is nearly beyond belief. It is tragic in a different way than Nazism; perhaps with consequences more evil.

If Leninism ever revives, this will be a classic, just as it is now in the wake of the Cold War defeat of Communism.
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Format: Paperback
When I first read The Gulag Archipelago I spent a great deal of time with that book's bibliography. Let History Judge was one of the first books from that bibliography I bought. It has not disappointed me. Exhaustive and I'm pretty sure impartial (hard for me to tell since I don't speak Russian).
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Format: Paperback
This book is a very thorough and well-written biography of Josef Stalin. It was one of the few books I read in college that I didn't mind reading. The information on Stalin's political and personal life gives the reader an opportunity to make informed judgements about Stalin's actions.
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Format: Paperback
The late 1990's saw the publication of numerous scatterbrained, and ill-intentioned, attempts to descredit Vladimir Lenin, Nikolai Bukharin, Leon Trotsky, and Karl Marx, by associating their actions, and ideas, with those of Joseph Stalin. One must ask, "were these attempts in any way successful?" Luckily, the answer is an emphatic, no. The individuals who bought into the "Marx and Lenin created Stalinism" theory, alluded to in works such as 'The Black Book of Communism', by Mister Courtois (or Miss), 'The Passing of an Illusion', by Mister Furet, and 'The Soviet Tragedy', by Mister Malia, already harbored such fantastic illusions. Most of the population has no interest in Sovietology, so attempts at descrediting Lenin, Marx, Bukharin, and Trotsky, were, and are, virtually fruitless (I took a Public Speaking course at a local community college, and most of the students hadn't even heard of Lenin, Marx, or Trotsky!.)
To find true objectivity, on the subject of Sovietology, one must reach back into the distant past, and read Roy Medvedev's incredible, 'Let History Judge'. One could refer to Medvedev's writings, as "Solzhenitsyn, without the racism and bitterness"(a spew of biographies show that Solzhenitsyn is without question anti-semitic; however, this fact doesn't mean he's no longer one of the elite writers of the twentieth century). 'Let History Judge', is not so much a history of Stalin, but a history of Russia from 1917-1953.
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Format: Paperback
Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism is Roy Medvedev’s magnum opus, and perhaps the most popular and highly praised biography of Josef Stalin and his era of totalitarian rule. Medvedev’s vast undertaking began in the 1950’s, and he shared drafts with friends and colleagues by the early 1960’s. By 1969, he published the book abroad. His motivation in writing a biography not only of Stalin, but of “the socio-political and economic conditions and social groups of which he based himself,” stemmed from “a rehabilitation of Stalin” in Soviet society and politics in 1969 and again in 1985 (p. xvii). The book, after numerous releases and rewrites, is the epitome of scholarly research on Stalin and his times. Medvedev turns the propaganda laden legacy of Stalinism on its head. Although he does not utilize privileged archives or secret sources, Medvedev exposes Stalin’s atrocities as well as the psychological composition of the man.
Likening Stalinism to a “disease” infecting Soviet society, Medvedev’s introduction explains the attempts to rehabilitate Stalinism in 1969 as well as in 1985. Not until 1986, Medvedev states, did the first criticisms of Stalin appear in Russian culture. Numerous films, books, magazines and plays attacked Stalinism and totalitarianism, pointing out crimes and atrocities. Such artistic ventures were also created from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, but were stamped out by the Communist Party or Stalin himself (except for a brief period under Khrushchev in the 1960’s). In 1987, Gorbachev spoke openly of Stalin’s crimes and abuse of power. By 1988, Perestroika and Glasnost paved the way for “change” (restructure) and “openness” (voice) in Soviet society.
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