Though the Great Terror of the late 1930s is widely viewed as the height of Stalin's purges, the number of arrests actually peaked in the early 1950s, and Stalin was planning hundreds of thousands more on the eve of his death in 1953. These arrests were spurred by the "doctors' plot," a supposed conspiracy among Jewish doctors to kill members of the government and destroy the U.S.S.R. at the behest of the Americans. Brent, the editorial director of Yale University Press, and Naumov, executive secretary of Russia's Presidential Commission for the Rehabilitation of Repressed Persons, trace how Stalin himself put together false evidence of the "doctors' plot," which was far more than a simple exercise in anti-Semitism and paranoid senility. According to the authors, Stalin intended to use the "doctors' plot" to accomplish several goals: to purge his Ministry of Security and upper ranks of government; to defuse the potential threat posed by Soviet Jews, many of whom had ties to the U.S. and the new state of Israel; and to provide fuel for an armed conflict with the U.S. Brent and Naumov provide a riveting view of Stalin's modus operandi: over the course of several years, he patiently and meticulously gathered forced confessions that would weave together unrelated events-the death of a top Party official here, the arrest of a Zionist doctor there-into a story of massive conspiracy. One of the reasons for his great care, the book contends, is that the popular mood had subtly shifted in the postwar era; revolutionary fervor had died down, there was a desire for legal legitimacy and, in contrast to their 1930s counterparts, top bureaucrats were loath to convict without evidence. One wishes that the authors had elaborated on fascinating points like these. Their narrative is a complicated one, full of minor characters and bureaucratic missives, and, by necessity, most of this narrowly focused book is taken up with close readings of documents.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Did Stalin die of a brain hemorrhage (the official word for 50 years) or was he poisoned, possibly to prevent an escalation of conflict with the U.S.? Examining previously secret documents, this book points out suspicious inconsistencies in official accounts of Stalin's death and fingers chief of secret police Beria as a likely assassin (although he's probably in collusion with Khrushchev and others). The authors' essential argument, however, details not how but why Stalin might have been killed. Brent and Naumov link Stalin's famously anti-Semitic "Doctors ' Plot," in which Jewish doctors were unjustly accused of conspiring to murder important politicians, to the ridiculous "plan of the internal blow," another alleged conspiracy of officials supposedly aiding an American plan to nuke the Kremlin itself. The authors argue that these Stalin-engineered plots were to be used by the paranoid dictator as justification for nuclear war. Tales of Stalin's paranoia are nothing new, but rarely are his subtle, yet relentless, machinations laid out in such intricate detail. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is a thrilling description of Stalin's last political offense -persecution of Jewish doctors
in Soviet Union not long before Stalin's death. Read more
Most people know about Hitler’s virulent attack on the Jewish people, culminating in the atrocities of the Holocaust. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Claudia Moscovici
In 1953, just before he died, Stalin was poised to launch another mass persecution and extermination. This focus of this 'purge' were the Jews of the Soviet Union. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This book is an in-depth study in psychological survival in a nightmarish police state---Stalin's Russia, circa 1948-1953. Read morePublished on July 23, 2011 by Dr. Miguel Faria
I agree with the reviews that cite serious flaws in this book: "tedious", "ruminative", "repetitive". Read morePublished on August 25, 2009 by Christopher W. Coffman
As someone familiar with Russian history, I enjoyed this book. Among others, it debunks the myth that Stalin was weak and out of touch at the time of his death. Read morePublished on February 23, 2004
For all its admirably meticulous documentation, this book does not pierce the mystery of the Doctors Plot. Read morePublished on November 21, 2003 by The Sanity Inspector