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Life and Fate (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – May 16, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Life and Fate's main action takes place from the fall of 1942 until the spring of 1943. It reaches forward in history to the 1950s and reaches back to the Bolshevik revolution itself. it covers every aspect of the Soviet-German war from Stalin and Hitler's offices, to devastated huts inhabited by soldiers and refugees, from the halls of the scientific academies to the dark quarters of the Gulag and the gas chambers of the Nazi death camps.
While there is a lot of action in this book in the smoke and fire of Stalingrad, in the dungeons of Stalin's prisons, and in the death camps of Hitler , the strength of this book is how it covers an important part of history, but also shows the life, loves, yearnings, hearts and minds of real people struggling through the Second World War in the Soviet Union.
Grossman's political target is what he calls the "totalitarian" State. He sees symmetry between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Mostly he frames Nazi Germany as being identical to the Stalinist Soviet Union, a depiction that harms the accuracy of his depiction of Germany. Like many around the world of his generation, Grossman asserts the strength of the human spirit and the struggle for freedom and socialism against these twin horrors. Yet, Grossman appears too much in awe of Stalin and Hitler, and does not realize that their brutality flowed from their weaknesses, not strength.
Even people I know who should know better, see the heroic defense of the Russian Revolution's conquests against Hitler only through the fantasies produced by Stalinist propaganda.Read more ›
The tale is unrelentingly grim. Nearly every character dies, is betrayed to the Soviet authorities, or simply suffers - and no ordinary suffering, but genuine Slavic deprivation. With a few temporary exceptions, universal hunger and material deprivation prevail. Hunger ranges from ever-present to starvation. Political betrayal runs rampant across every class of Stalinist Soviet society with mind-boggling inefficiency. Grossman also describes the very beginnings of the Nazi Holocaust at Treblinka and other extermination camps, including a blood-chilling scene with Eichmann having dinner at the camp to celebrate its opening.
Grossman's characters engage in extensive internal dialogue about their suffering and especially about their political punishments. Grossman recreates the frustration of not knowing why one has been accused of infidelity to the Revolution. Often the victim doesn't know by whom or of what they have been accused.
Grossman was a decorated Soviet military journalist who moved gradually toward the dissidence that flowers in his epic novel. What is remarkable, and a matter of some debate today, is how Grossman ever imagined that his book would be published in the Soviet Union - as he proposed during the thaw under Nikita Khrushchev. Instead, while Grossman was not molested, his book was taken "under arrest" by the KGB in 1961. Fortunately, Grossman kept two undeclared copies that were smuggled out to the West in 1980 and published in 1985.Read more ›
Grossman was born in 1905. Although Jewish by birth, Grossman was never particularly religious and his family supported the 1917 revolution. After receiving a degree in chemistry Grossman found work in the Donbass coal mines. Encouraged by Maxim Gorky, Grossman began writing short stories and plays. Grossman adopted Stalin's maxim that writers were engineers of human souls and his work was firmly rooted in the rather tedious school of socialist realism. Grossman's play "If You Believe the Pythagoreans" attacked the philosophical rants of intellectuals and argued that they were garbage not "worth a good worker's boot." For all intents and purposes, Grossman was a true believer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a true 20th century novel - but written by a Russian ! A relief to see our common humanity described from another angle...we're so used to the American perspective... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Meigetsu
I began to read this book on Oyster just before Oyster went out of business. I attempted to finish reading it on Kindle after purchasing it and find that after numerous attempts... Read morePublished 1 month ago by bashh
I've read many of the comments here and I can't quibble with the positive comments too much, but I do think that some reemphasis is appropriate. Read morePublished 3 months ago by R. G. Steen
This is one of the greatest novels ever written. I am extremely well read and can attest that if you are willing to spend the energy on reading this book you will concur with my... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jessie M. Strauss
I loved this epic novel , couldn't put it down . Robert Chandler's translation is wonderful .Published 6 months ago by sheepdog
Vasily should be ranked with Tolstoy,Turgenev, and Pushkin.Published 7 months ago by walter g. mcmillan jr.
I'm a fairly avid reader and there are only 12 books in my life I didn't finish. Life and Fate was one of them. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bishop
This is a Russian novel, complex and bleak, sometimes touted as a WWII analog of War and Peace. It is set in the time of the battle for Stalingrad, covering some aspects of that... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kermit Carraway