From Publishers Weekly
This scholarly, nuanced work shines light on Stalin's forced resettlement of two million Soviet peasants in the 1930s. A professor of history at the University of Toronto, Viola shows how a combination of repressive central government policies and out-of-control regional officials ruined the lives of so many Soviet citizens by deporting them to these "special settlements" to perform forced labor in the harsh tundra. Viola draws on newly opened archives to paint a complete portrait of the lives of the citizens, labeled "kulaks," or wealthy peasants. Hundreds of thousands died of disease or famine. As one child later remembered: "People began to swell and die" and were buried "without coffins, in collective graves." Viola writes clearly, but she is often understandably focused on larger, political questions, such as the nature of the Soviet state and how much of the repression was ordered by Stalin, and how much was ad hoc and locally ordered. This focus might limit Viola's readership, but this book is likely to become the scholarly standard on one of the 20th century's most horrific crimes. 25 b&w photos. (Apr.)
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"After years of archival and field research, Viola reproduces whole an obscured segment of Stalinism's barbarity in which half a million perished and nearly two million agonized."--Foreign Affairs
"Magnificently wide-ranging."--Times Literary Supplement
"A path-breaking and authoritative work."--Douglas Smith, The Seattle Times
"This scholarly, nuanced work shines light on Stalin's forced resettlement of two million Soviet peasants in the 1930s. Likely to become the scholarly standard on one of the 20th century's most horrific crimes."--Publishers Weekly
"Historians have long been aware of the scale of collectivization and the exile of the kulaks. But The Unknown Gulag
provides the human voices that were secreted away for decades in formerly closed archives. Ms. Viola's painstaking research lays the foundation for a compelling and, in certain ways, surprising narrative."--The Wall Street Journal
"A seamless and quite moving narrative. A social historian at the top of her game."--Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Slavic Review