From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Gottfried skillfully covers the period from the death of Lenin at the beginning of 1924 through the onset of World War II. In the first three chapters, he examines Stalin's rise to power and his consolidation of that power by ousting his competitors, controlling key appointments, and using the secret police. The chapter "Exporting Communism" adds an important global dimension with a discussion of the infiltration of the Communist Party in China, Spain, and the United States in the '30s. Two chapters cover the purges and trials of political figures and military leaders, the control of the mass media, and the widespread arrests of even ordinary citizens, who were sent to forced labor camps where so many perished. The final chapters describe the alliances and treacheries that led to World War II. Although Stalin died in 1953, the book ends somewhat abruptly with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. However, one might assume that the war period and its aftermath will be covered in the third installment of this series. The book is exceptionally well written, and each chapter is carefully divided into short sections. The distracting presentation of quotes and black-and-white photographs in a skewed format on a red background might be intended to add drama, but that is better achieved by the graphics that introduce each chapter. A fine addition to most collections.Elizabeth Talbot, University of Illinois, Champaign
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Reviewed with Ted Gottfried's The Road to Communism
Gr. 8-12. Like Gottfried's excellent Holocaust series, these books are compelling, in-depth histories that chronicle the how and why of cataclysmic events and the roles of both leaders and ordinary people. These two titles are the first in a proposed four-volume set about the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union. Gottfried writes with clarity and distance even as he narrates the dramatic details of the political conflict and the emotion of the "dream that failed." Communism describes the end of czarist tyranny and focuses on the revolution. Stalinist Empire describes the nightmare of the 30-year dictatorship up to WW II. Highly readable, the large volumes are spaciously designed, with clear type on thick, quality paper; lots of subheads; occasional photographs; and dramatic, full-page art by Reim that evokes the marching crowds in triumph and despair. Each volume has a detailed double-page map of the period, a chronology, and a glossary, and the documentation includes careful chapter notes and a brief bibliography. Hazel Rochman
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