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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine Paperback – November 12, 1987

4.5 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Conquest has a terrible story to tell. He examines Stalin's assault on the Soviet peasantry at the end of the 1920s and, in particular, his genocideno other word will doof the Ukrainian people in the human-made famine of 1932-33. His horrific details, drawn from Soviet as well as Western sources, lead Conquest to conclude that as many as 14.5 million died in the years 1930-37 as a result of Stalin's terror against the peasantry: five million came from the Ukraine alone. These facts, and the ghastly details behind them, are not widely known in the West. In addition, they are officially denied by the Soviets to this day. This account by a leading scholar should help to make the story better known. R.H. Johnston, History Dept., McMaster Univ . , Hamilton, Ontario
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A fine, thoroughly documented full-dress historical study of this genocidal campaign. Conquest grabs his reader at the start."--National Review

"Vital to understanding 'Stalin's revolution.'"--Patrick J. Rollins, Old Dominion University

"The Harvest of Sorrow is not just a heroic work of scholarship, but an embarrassment to Mikhail Gorbachev and an antidote to wishful thinking about the Soviet Union."*

"Essential reading for those who wish to understand the nature of the Soviet system...likely to become a classic."The Wall Street Journal

"The Harvest of Sorrow is essential reading for those who wish to understand the nature of the Soviet system, and like Mr. Conquest's earlier account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s, The Great Terror, it is likely to become a classic."--The Wall Street Journal

"The most comprehensive history of the Soviet agricultural crisis....Also the most vivid portrayal of one of the great crimes against humanity of the twentieth century."--American Historical Review

"The first major scholarly book on the horrors [of Soviet collectivization]....Conquest has succeeded in restoring [the peasants'] human faces."--Time

"A very good book of its kind."--T.E. Smuck, University of Hawaii

"A superb book on a fascinating topic."--Bruce F. Adams, University of Louisville

"A superb book on one of the most important questions in Soviet history."--Herbert Ellison, University of Washington

"Excellent....It contains information on the Stalinist era, especially the consequences of collectivization, unavailable in any other book on Soviet society."--L.M. Kowal, University of Michigan

"[A] superb work of history."--Newsweek

"Meticulously researched...Robert Conquest presents a chilling account of Stalin's regime cold bloodedly killing twenty million of its own subjects."--The Washington Post Book World

"Powerful and well-documented."--The New Republic

"An excellent book....It is an eye-opener about a period of Soviet history that has been systematically falsified and ignored too often."--Steven M. Miner, Ohio University

"A carefully researched and superbly written study. It deals with a period, and a set of problems, that rank among the most important (and most neglected) of Soviet historical studies."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A comprehensive record of what may stand as the crime of the century."--The Chicago Tribune

"Brilliant and brutal. Should be required reading for all of Gorbachev's apologists."--John C.K. Daly, Kansas State University

"Absolutely essential to an understanding of the Soviet Union....Meticulously researched and well-written and the only comprehensive study of the appalling tragedy which befell in the Ukraine during collectivization."--Charles W. Chappius, Chicago State University


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195051807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195051803
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on November 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
In another tremendous masterpiece of Soviet history, Robert Conquest covers Stalin's manmade famines in this book. Here Conquest provides devastating evidence of the complete insanity and megalomania of communism, especially the Stalinist variety. Regardless of your political leanings, this book proves without a doubt what a cruel, deadly, and completely impossible system communism really is. Stalin and his yes-men decided to embark on an insane crash agricultural collectivization program in the 1920's and 30's, hoping to replace the "backwards" system of humble peasants on their own plots (which had been successful for millennia), with a glorious system of industrialized megafarms that would supply the state directly. The first problem was that the state usually required deliveries so impossibly high that the farmers/peasants had nothing left for themselves. This caused a complete breakdown in the agricultural economy (no incentives to produce), plus a famine in which 14 million people died.
When the system failed, Stalin and his henchmen became obsessed with finding the "enemy" who was holding everything back. The enemy became the mostly fictitious group of people called "kulaks," theoretically prosperous peasants who were holding back the masses and the glorious Soviet future. Since these people mostly didn't exist, the regime had to invent them. Therefore any peasant who had one more cow, one more acre, and was slightly less emaciated than everyone else was branded as a kulak and eliminated. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were condemned for life in this insanity.
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Format: Paperback
Robert Conquest has endured the slurs of the Communist Left in America and Europe as he continues to recall history as a way to chronicle the fight for individual liberty. History will extol his virtues far more than present day academics or big media worthies ever will. This story of inhumane cruelty, perpetrated by Bolshevik ideologues, is so horrible that one wants to suspend disbelief at the turn of every page in every chapter. The complete disregard for the Kulaks by the Bolsheviks at the expense of achieving an ideal should be a lesson for us all. This story should be on the History Channel every week like the stories of German concentration camps. The sheer numbers of genocidal killing show this crime to be even bigger than the holocaust.
Conquest details this horror, chapter and verse, of Stalin's collectivization of agriculture in the Ukraine. He shows the Communist ideal for what it is, a fraud, and this is why we don't see this event chronicled on a weekly basis. We have too many people in the media in America who are seemingly ignorant, or who wish to turn their heads to the truth, of what actually happened. We still have the "Walter Duranty types" among us who would seek to distribute misinformation to the public in order to keep the collectivist ideal alive. It makes you wonder what it takes for people to get the message?
This book points out how Duranty was given a Pulitzer Prize for his misreporting from the Soviet Union, in the early 30's, that the famine and genocide in the Ukraine were virtually non-existent. That this cur and toady of Stalin, for 14 years the voice to America from Moscow, has not had his Pulitzer prize retroactively recalled tells you something about those who award the Pulitzer prize.
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Format: Paperback
I did not believe Eastern European friends and dissidents who told me 20 years ago about the mass murder by starvation, deportation, and shooting of the Ukrainian peasantry in the 1930ies. This thoroughly researched and exceptionally well written book removes all doubts. The book exposes both the extensive scale of the genocide (many million dead) and western complacency. It surprises that this major event in European affairs is largely absent from past and present western consciousness.
This book is hard to put down as it combines excellent writing with a gripping if true and gruesome story. Conquest gives the men, women, and children that vanished a loud and clear voice without loosing sight of the larger political context. He demonstrates the deadly consequences of individual actions and individual inactions that killed the farmers of the Ukrainian "bread basket." The story has a chilling echo in more recent events in Rwanda, Kosovo, China, and North-Korea.
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Format: Paperback
The black earth
Was sown with bones
And watered with blood
For a harvest of sorrow
On the land of Rus.
- _The Armament of Igor_.

_The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivizaton and the Terror-Famine_, first published in 1986, by historian Robert Conquest is an excellent accounting of the horrors of the Soviet state unleashed upon the Russian peasantry by the Soviet Communist Party between 1929 and 1933. Robert Conquest is a British historian who early on joined the Communist Party and fought in World War II; however, after seeing firsthand the horrors of Soviet communism he became an anti-communist. In this book a detailed accounting of the more than 14.5 million deaths (more than the total number of deaths from all countries involved in World War I) that resulted directly from policies sanctioned by the Soviet Communist Party is detailed. Such policies as dekulakization, collectivization, and the "terror-famine" in the Ukraine had drastic consequences for those living under this oppressive and horrendous regime. Further, many Western intellectuals turned a blind eye to these atrocities because of their support for this horrendous and ungodly ideology. Even today many continue to deny such crimes occurred among the communists, while at the same time a repeated accounting is made of Nazi and fascist crimes. For those who believe that Soviet communism was a just and noble endeavor, a book like this is certainly sobering. Through painstaking research, Robert Conquest unveils the horrors behind Soviet communism.

Conquest begins by noting the importance of Ukrainian nationalism, feared by the Soviets, and comparing the atrocities of communism to those of the other totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century, Nazism and fascism.
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