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The Living And The Dead: The Rise And Fall Of The Cult Of World War II In Russia Paperback – August 10, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (August 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465041442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465041442
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wellesley history professor Tumarkin ( Lenin Lives! ) here explains how Stalin and his successors glorified the Soviet war against Nazi Germany by orchestrating a sanitized myth of heroic triumph intended to foster support for the Communist Party and an ailing economic system. The cult of the Great Patriotic War, she demonstrates, concealed the U.S.S.R.'s disastrous unpreparedness for the 1941 German invasion, which cost 30 million Soviet lives. Stalin's murder of tens of thousands of Soviet military commanders in a purge on the eve of the war, his use of the war as a pretext to crush dissent and nationalist separatisms and his scorched-earth policy are also omitted from the official cult. Based on the author's travels in Russia between 1978 and 1992, this illuminating and poignant study contrasts the managed myth of WW II with the unvarnished memoirs of writers, filmmakers and ordinary citizens.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Tumarkin (The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia, 1983) has successfully used personal sorrows to paint an accurate portrayal of the manipulation, by Stalin, of the Great Patriotic War (World War II). She shows in detail how history was distorted, contrived, and deliberately falsified to persuade the Soviet people to do heroic deeds. This falsified history covered up the tragedy of the Russian front, Stalin's purges, and the murder of millions of Stalin's enemies. Ironically, this falsification carries a threat for us. To quote David Remnick (Lenin's Tomb, LJ 6/15/93), musing on the accumulated effect of living with distorted or obliterated past: "In making a secret of history, the Kremlin made its subjects just a little more insane, a little more desperate." The cult of war continued through successive chairmen and party first secretaries until Gorbachev's glasnost. An excellent addition to academic and public libraries.
Harry Willems, Kansas Lib. System, Iola
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Chapulina R on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Nina Tumarkin gives a scathing critique of what she calls the Soviet "cult" of World War ll -- the Communist Party's gradual transformation of an enormous national tragedy into a glorious, heroic feat. She starts with the early days following Victory, after which Stalin sought to suppress the people's collective memory of the War. He began by demoting Victory Day in 1947 from a state holiday to a regular working day. He banned publication of soldiers' memoirs, claiming that it was "too early... following these great events... and thus the memoirs would not have the required objectivity." (Of course veterans understood that it was not subjectivism that worried Stalin, but rather, fear of unflattering truths emerging.) And within the following two years, amputees and other mutilated survivors began to disappear from the streets, as the evidence of wartime horror was relocated to special "colonies" in the north. It wasn't until well after Khruschev's denunciation of Stalin's regime that Victory Day was reinstated, and the Party began its stage-managing of the War into a triumph of patriotism. Its glorification reached its fervent peak during the Brezhnev years, with massive celebrations taking place every May. Tumarkin makes many fine points about the hypocrisy of pompous ritual while hundreds of thousands of dead still lay unburied on battlefields throughout the country. And how Brezhnev awarded himself undeserved medals for nonexistent wartime valor after so many POWs had rotted away for years in gulags.Read more ›
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Phillips on November 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book for pleasure. I am not a scholar on the subject of WWII nor an expert in Soviet politics. I thought the book was great. It taught me more about how "present" WWII still is in Russia, and it really inspired me to want to read more on the topic. A good, interesting read for a layperson!
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Tumarkin looks at the continual commemoration of the Second World War in Russia; unfortunately, her account of this fascinating subject is marred by her blatant anti-Soviet feelings and irrelevant personal anecdotes. In a backlash against Stalin and the Soviet's reluctance to name Jews as special victims of the war, she seems at times to forget that the Soviets were persecuted as well, as Bolsheviks and "Untermenschen" Slavs.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ms barbara on July 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually didn't like this book much. Frankly I thought it was quite scattered and too many flowery phrases...'so and so, a 22 year old brilliant journalist...bla bla'. Perhaps I read it 15 years too long after it was published. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely pages here and there that directly deal with the Russian Cult of WWII. I just don't think I gained much understanding of it the way it was presented. I had wanted (in this book) more of a clear and concise explanation of this Cult of WWII and it just felt like the book rambled and led me though a history of the War instead.
I lived in Russia in 92-93 and I would look at the Russians themselves more closely as they WANTED to perpetuate this 'we are the greatest' attitude it seems to me. They say a country deserves the government it has and to this day that can be said about Russians. (And now I fear about the US too.) Very sad and what Communism does to a whole populations seems to leave a scar that will never truly heal. It does something to people and they are NOT the better for it.
I remember teaching some Russian 'English' teachers. When I told them that West Germany (former) was so much better off than the former East Germany, they refused to believe me BECAUSE how could that possibly be true??? Russia won the war! They would not budge. This kind of thinking goes on in Russia today and there are still huge amounts of people who refuse to believe much bad about Stalin.

Perhaps I am always skeptical of an author who can't seem to get through such a large undertaking without taking a swipe at President George H. Bush for NOT seeing the Coup in Russia coming. That seems so frivolous to me as I would say, 'did literally ANYONE but Ms. Tumarkin???
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