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on August 5, 2006
"Secondadd" criticized another review as utter nonsense but did not specify why that is true. I think it very illmannered and sloppy to make such an assertion, hide behind a pseudonym, and then not make an argument why one should believe the review is nonsense. "Secondadd" you should support your assertion with facts, or just provide your own review without wasting the reader's time with your unsupported opinions about other reviewers.

Mr. Conquest's book was a monumental contribution.
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on August 27, 2006
That being said, I give it only three stars. It is a Conquest book, so it is complete in all details, references, research, etc. Also, while I have read dozens of books on the Stalin period there were many facts, anectdotes, and historical information that was knew to me. In summary there is a wealth of detailed documented information in this book.

However there are several reasons that I have only given this book three stars. One is the organization; the chapters are well defined but the presentation wanders quite a bit. Ancillary issues jump in and out inconsistently with an inconsisten presentation. It makes following the story sometimes difficult. Also the book is in need of a good edit; I understand and appreciate complex sentence structure, but take issue with sentences that backwards constructed, contorted, and in general needless awkward. There is a lot of that. Last, perhaps it is not, but it seems that this may have been one of his later works... he is quite impressed with himself and lets the reader know a little to often for my taste.

All that being said, it is a concise rendition of a difficult topic, difficutl becuase the material is so brutal. There are a couple of chapters that are outstanding, mainly the middle part of the book where Conquest details the mechanics and scope of the purge on the population and the heinous mis-fortune of execution or slow death in the labor camps. The stories, details, and descriptions in these chapters is first rate.

Over all I would recommend Solzhenitsyn's Gulag series. It is not quite as detailed account of the purges, but it is close. His series also benefits from a better narrative style, editing, and in general "inside" perspective.

I have read other Conquest books before. His Famine of Terror is a much better read and, while as detailed as the Great Terror, it's rendition is highly superior to the Great Terror. The story itself is certainly no less gruesome.
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on January 3, 2014
for all who think that socialism and communism are good for human society. Humans being humans, there is always way to abuse the system of redistribution of wealth
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on March 2, 2001
Stalin is one of history's greatest mass murderers, along with Hitler, Mao, Leopold II (See King Leopold's Ghost if the reference is obscure), but the Soviet archives cast some doubt on the numbers traditionally tossed around. You can get a sense of the latest estimates if you read Werth's contribution to the Black Book of Communism, or, for the really short summary, read Getty's review of that book in the March 2000 issue of the Altantic Monthly. Roughly 2 to 3 million people died in the Gulag or were executed during the Stalin era. A much larger number, perhaps 6 million, died in the famines of the early 30's. And hundreds of thousands died in the forced population transfers of various ethnic groups. So you still get into the ten million range, but the much higher numbers often cited are probably inflated. And if you question the accuracy of Soviet documents, these were internal memos written by various bureaucrats running the system who needed to know how many slave laborers were available for planning, how much barbed wire was needed for camps, etc... According to Getty, the numbers from various sources on the Gulag population are all consistent, which is why he thinks they are probably fairly accurate.
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on July 26, 1998
he is the evil man of the century! he killed 18 million christians and 10 million ukrainians
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on July 31, 2000
Conquest book is not history or scholarship but rather a well written series of lies and distortions. If the book was not dated 1968 you would think it was published in Berlin about 1938. Conquest's sources are primarily Russian emigrees who had an ax to grind or German's who were pro-Nazi. How valid would a history of the American Revolution be if it was based on interviews of British tories in Montreal in 1783. I am sure they spoke highly of Washington and Jefferson.
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