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Life and Fate (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – May 16, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Life and Fate's main action takes place from the fall of 1942 until the spring of 1943. It reaches forward in history to the 1950s and reaches back to the Bolshevik revolution itself. it covers every aspect of the Soviet-German war from Stalin and Hitler's offices, to devastated huts inhabited by soldiers and refugees, from the halls of the scientific academies to the dark quarters of the Gulag and the gas chambers of the Nazi death camps.
While there is a lot of action in this book in the smoke and fire of Stalingrad, in the dungeons of Stalin's prisons, and in the death camps of Hitler , the strength of this book is how it covers an important part of history, but also shows the life, loves, yearnings, hearts and minds of real people struggling through the Second World War in the Soviet Union.
Grossman's political target is what he calls the "totalitarian" State. He sees symmetry between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Mostly he frames Nazi Germany as being identical to the Stalinist Soviet Union, a depiction that harms the accuracy of his depiction of Germany. Like many around the world of his generation, Grossman asserts the strength of the human spirit and the struggle for freedom and socialism against these twin horrors. Yet, Grossman appears too much in awe of Stalin and Hitler, and does not realize that their brutality flowed from their weaknesses, not strength.
Even people I know who should know better, see the heroic defense of the Russian Revolution's conquests against Hitler only through the fantasies produced by Stalinist propaganda.Read more ›
The tale is unrelentingly grim. Nearly every character dies, is betrayed to the Soviet authorities, or simply suffers - and no ordinary suffering, but genuine Slavic deprivation. With a few temporary exceptions, universal hunger and material deprivation prevail. Hunger ranges from ever-present to starvation. Political betrayal runs rampant across every class of Stalinist Soviet society with mind-boggling inefficiency. Grossman also describes the very beginnings of the Nazi Holocaust at Treblinka and other extermination camps, including a blood-chilling scene with Eichmann having dinner at the camp to celebrate its opening.
Grossman's characters engage in extensive internal dialogue about their suffering and especially about their political punishments. Grossman recreates the frustration of not knowing why one has been accused of infidelity to the Revolution. Often the victim doesn't know by whom or of what they have been accused.
Grossman was a decorated Soviet military journalist who moved gradually toward the dissidence that flowers in his epic novel. What is remarkable, and a matter of some debate today, is how Grossman ever imagined that his book would be published in the Soviet Union - as he proposed during the thaw under Nikita Khrushchev. Instead, while Grossman was not molested, his book was taken "under arrest" by the KGB in 1961. Fortunately, Grossman kept two undeclared copies that were smuggled out to the West in 1980 and published in 1985.Read more ›
Grossman was born in 1905. Although Jewish by birth, Grossman was never particularly religious and his family supported the 1917 revolution. After receiving a degree in chemistry Grossman found work in the Donbass coal mines. Encouraged by Maxim Gorky, Grossman began writing short stories and plays. Grossman adopted Stalin's maxim that writers were engineers of human souls and his work was firmly rooted in the rather tedious school of socialist realism. Grossman's play "If You Believe the Pythagoreans" attacked the philosophical rants of intellectuals and argued that they were garbage not "worth a good worker's boot." For all intents and purposes, Grossman was a true believer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Critics compared this book to War and Peace. I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and I thought that nothing should be compared to that book. I was wrong. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Charles Ginsburg
The book is overly long with too many characters which makes it hard to follow. The interesting parts relate to the combat in the war zones. I could not read the whole book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by glenn andrew
Although written from an unilateral perspective of history , the book is very well composed , the writing has literary value and the humanity oozing from it warms up your heart and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mariana Ciobanu
This is an extraordinary masterpiece of Russian literature, the War and Oeace of World War II. It is not well known in the West because it was written under Stakin. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miss Moneypenny
This book is profound!
It is not just about the USSR. It is about relations between the person and the oppression of the totalitarian state. Read more
I read a book by Grossman from his war days before ordering this book. I saw how he used these characters in his novel. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Birdman
It has interesting information, but poorly "put together"
historical interesting even with fictional characters. probably more interesting in Russian.Published 3 months ago by James Buscher