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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618257470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618257478
  • ASIN: B0057D94HA
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,945,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hochschild spent the first half of 1991 in the former Soviet Union interviewing gulag survivors, former camp guards and members of the secret police, writers, artists, human rights activists, neo-Stalinists and ordinary citizens about their opinions of Stalin. This haunting and powerful report reveals that the dictator's legacy persists in widespread denial, amnesia, numbness and pervasive fear among people whose lives were scarred by mass arrests, killings and Stalin's spy network. Hochschild ( The Mirror at Midnight ) traveled to Kolyma, site of the deadliest camps; he interviewed Valentin Berezhkov, who was Stalin's English-language interpreter and privy to the regime's inner circle; he visited Moscow's KGB archives and was given files of American victims of the gulag. Comparing Stalin's purges to the witch craze of early medieval Europe, Hochschild attributes this "self-inflicted genocide" partly to Russians' age-old habits of scapegoating and passive obedience. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to New York Times Magazine .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Hochschild's search for survivors of Stalin's Terror results in a moving historical horror story. He spent half of 1991 in the disintegrating USSR, listening to former prisoners, guards, executioners, and families describe mass murder, imprisonments, interrupted lives, and hopes destroyed. Russian-speaking journalist Hochschild, a founder of Mother Jones , was among the first Americans to enter KGB archives, where he received records of executed Americans. He visited gulag sites and chapters of Memorial, an organization documenting the Terror. He traveled to Kolyma, the frozen final destination for many and a name that resonates among Russians with the power of Auschwitz. Hochschild's questions are disturbing and timeless: Why did the Revolution devour itself? What makes someone an executioner? Hochschild's people, as well as his honesty and passion, make this unforgettable book essential for everyone concerned about history and human rights. Strongly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/93.
- Donna L. Cole, Leeds P.L., Ala.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Adam Hochschild's first book, "Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son," was published in 1986. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times called it "an extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love . . . firmly grounded in the specifics of a particular time and place, conjuring them up with Proustian detail and affection." It was followed by "The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey," and "The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin." His 1997 collection, "Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels," won the PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award for the Art of the Essay. "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa" was a finalist for the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award. It also won a J. Anthony Lukas award in the United States, and the Duff Cooper Prize in England. Five of his books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. His "Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves" was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award in Nonfiction and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History.

"To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918," Hochschild's latest book, was a New York Times bestseller. It was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction and won the 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.

The American Historical Association gave Hochschild its 2008 Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, a prize given each year to someone outside the academy who has made a significant contribution to the study of history.

"Throughout his writings over the last decades," the Association's citation said, "Adam Hochschild has focused on topics of important moral and political urgency, with a special emphasis on social and political injustices and those who confronted and struggled against them, as in the case of Britain's 18th-century abolitionists in 'Bury the Chains'; 'The Mirror at Midnight', a study of the struggle between the Boers and Zulus for control over South Africa in the 19th-century Battle of Blood River and its contentious commemoration by rival groups 150 years later; the complex confrontation of Russians with the ghost of Stalinist past in 'The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin'; and the cruelties enacted during the course of Western colonial expansion and domination, notably in his widely acclaimed 'King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa', among his many other publications. All his books combine dramatic narratives and meticulous research. . . .

" 'King Leopold's Ghost' had an extraordinary impact, attracting readers the world over, altering the teaching and writing of history and affecting politics and culture at national and international levels. Published in English and translated into 11 additional languages, the book has been incorporated into secondary school curricula and appears as a key text in the historiography of colonial Africa for college and graduate students. But it is within Belgium that Hochschild's work has had the most dramatic impact, demonstrating the active and transformative power of history. The publication of 'King Leopold's Ghost' forced Belgians to come to terms for the first time with their long buried colonial past and generated intense public debate that so troubled Belgian officials that they reportedly instructed diplomats on how to deflect embarrassing questions that the book raised about the past. The book offered welcome support for others in Belgium who sought acknowledgment and accountability for Belgian actions in the Congo. . . . Few works of history have the power to effect such significant change in people's understanding of their past."

Hochschild teaches narrative writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He and his wife, sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild, have two sons and two granddaughters.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
Every once in a while, you read a book that teaches you so much.
Crossfit Len
This book can abruptly remind us of the generalities of life all over the world (i.e. psychological and physical abuse) when it comes to the terror of Stalin.
Timothy Mikolay
Hochschild is obviously a talented writer, and he does a great job of tackling a very difficult subject.
D. Sterling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Murphy on January 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Every so often, a book comes along that no written review, no matter how carefully crafted, can really do justice to. This is one such book.

Hochschild's six month sojourn in 1991 through the remnants of the gulag archipelago is the mesmerizing tale of a once mighty nation still very much haunted by its past descent into madness. Interviewing both victims and perpetrators alike, Hochschild aptly conveys the great extent to which Soviet society still remains conflicted some 50 years after the terror of Stalin's Great Purge.

To his credit, Hochschild does more than simply chronicle the tyranny of Stalin's regime; he continually asks "why?". Why did a movement supposedly predicated on championing and elevating the common man turn so quickly on 20 million of its own people? Why would a regime exert so much time and effort prosecuting and persecuting persons it knew to be innocent? After all the unspeakable injustices perpetrated by Stalin, why would so many weep at his passing? Why do some victims of the regime readily embrace their former captors and tormentors as fellow casualties while others refuse to speak of their ordeals to this very day? A thought provoking narrative that admirably weaves together a complex tangle of emotions and issues.

If The Unquiet Ghost has a shortcoming, it is the author's tendency to occasionally interject his personal political beliefs into the narrative. While some political expressions perhaps have relevance, such as when Hochschild criticizes his liberal forebears who refused to see Stalin's Soviet Union for the brutal totalitarian dictatorship that it was, his off-hand commentary regarding political issues unique to the United States detracts from what it otherwise a fantastic book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1997
Format: Paperback
Hochschild examines the harsh reality of people living with the legacy of Stalinism. Russia is a country that rests on buried corpses, and as Hochschild relates, their ghosts are no longer silent. As Russians attempt to confront the past, many find it too painful to face the truth about their loved ones and even themselves. But for some, the deeply buried memories of the horror of Stalinism is surfacing. Hochschild causes the reader to ask "Would I have done any differently?" Hochschild's book is an important tool in helping understand the great problems that face the people of Russia today. His book causes the reader to ask if, indeed, there is a little Stalin in all of us
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. Sterling on February 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hochschild is obviously a talented writer, and he does a great job of tackling a very difficult subject. However, often as he was drawing me in, he would throw in an anti-American non-sequitor, like comparing the people in the Gulag to the homeless in America. Huh? I'm not without compassion, but that is comparing one man's cut finger to another man's cut from the guillotine. Hochschild would be well served to leave his alternative agenda out of this book and focus on the subject at hand. The victims of the Gulag deserve nothing less.
However, if you can ignore these occasional comments which are out of place and inappropriate, The Unquiet Ghost is a solid effort which worth reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1996
Format: Paperback
Hochschild writes an interesting account of life in Russia after the fall of Communism. He examines the scars of the Stalin years, and how contemporary Russian society is dealing with the past. The book takes the reader on a short tour of Russia, with Hochschild's visits to previously closed towns, ending in the Kolyma region, notorious for its labor camps. Throughout the book, Hochschild interviews Russians from all walks of life, former camp inmates and guards, doctors,workers, and former party members. While some long for the security offered in the Communist past, most await the prosperity of the free market economy. Almost all have difficulty dealing with the purges of the Stalin years, since many Russians lost family members as a result of arrest and detention. Hochschild does a commendable job of exposing the divisive nature of the purges, and how the society is having a difficult time placing responsibility, especially in the face of new information coming from formerly closed government sources almost daily. Hochschild's book is a must read if one is to fully understand the Russian people, as they search for their place in the community of nations
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S.B on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the best books I've come across on Soviet, and especially Stalin era, history. The author Adam Hochschild, a well known American journalist, traveled to Russia in 1991 and collected stories from survivors of the Gulag during the great purge of the 1930s. He also met with KGB agents and was shown the archives and individual documents of some of the Gulag victims including two Americans who were shot in Moscow in 1937. The author shows a vast knowledge of the intricate history of the Soviet Union and tries to analyze its zeitgeist during the 1930s and 1940s. He also tries to delve deeper in the Russian people psyche and figure out why some of the victims actually wept when Stalin died. I find this point particularly interesting. He also visited some Siberian cities and labor camps including the notorious Kolyma in the Russian far east.
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