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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine Paperback – November 12, 1987
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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. Conquest provides plenty of evidence that the Soviet agricultural program could have been slightly more successful if they weren't busy killing and deporting such huge numbers of potential farmers, and if they had gotten over their irrational search for "enemies" and faced facts instead.
Of special interest in this book is Conquest's side trip to Kazakhstan, where the Soviets attempted the same program, making nomadic peoples settle down and raise crops that couldn't possibly survive in the area. This led to a famine that killed one million people. This was an accident, but Stalin learned that famine could be used as a weapon. The book then focuses on the Ukraine, which was full of pesky nationalists who didn't want to be a part of the USSR. First, the regime decided for themselves that the "masses" in the Ukraine hated their own language, culture, and institutions (how could anyone possibly believe this?), and that the masses were being held from glory by a few backwards enemies who wanted to remain Ukrainian. Apparently the "true" workers of the Ukraine would want to be Russianized; so the Soviets executed, deported, or starved as "class enemies" every person who disagreed (that is, almost everybody). The resulting cultural chaos and failed agricultural system resulted in one of the greatest death tolls in history, taken out deliberately on the people of the Ukraine.
This book is slightly weaker than Conquest's all time classic "The Great Terror," especially in the tendency toward statistical overload. He also assumes that you have read his other works, and keep many things under-explained in this book. Most of the officials and politicians in the book are only identified by their last names and have little or no introductions, plus Conquest assumes that you would know the meanings of esoteric terms like "Borotbist" or "Petliuraist." This can make the book difficult for the layman.
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. This prize is clearly a very bad and a very sick joke.
If the Irish think their potato famine was a tragedy, which it certainly was, and they thump their chest at the English, which they certainly do, what do they have to say about the Bolshevik's slaughter of the Kulak's? One would think that all people of all nations would band together to denounce such inhumane treatment of mankind by a concentrated number of ideological zealots as described in this book.
This is a very sad story that is very trying to read. It's like reading Valladares' book "Against All Hope" which is about Cuba under Castro. A more comprehensive book would be "The Black Book of Communism" which also includes information about this Soviet caused famine in the Ukraine. It also includes the plight of people, in all of the other countries that are or have been under the yoke of Communist dictators. Their methods of societal control are identical to those chronicled in this book; the mind reels at the numbers of the dead, ...7 million... 11 million... 14 million? It's just too much to believe. This holocaust should never be forgotten. It should be taught as a required course for college graduation. Why isn't it?
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.