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Comment: Condition: As new condition., As new dust jacket. Clean - No marks of any kind. / Binding: / Publisher: Yale University Press / Pub. Date: 1996-03-27 Attributes: Book / Stock#: Z992190737 () * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia, 1934-1941 Hardcover – March 27, 1996

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stalin has had the reputation of ruling the U.S.S.R. with an iron fist, employing terror to inflict his will on a hapless populace. Accordingly, Stalin was also a paranoid monster who stage-managed the twists and turns of Soviet policy that made him supreme leader. In this strongly revisionist work, Thurston, associate professor of history at Miami University, tries to refute that conception, arguing that Stalin was largely reacting to events around him. The author goes so far as to claim that, though terror existed as part of the Soviet system, Stalin never meant it to be a primary instrument for ruling. Thurston has surveyed recently opened Soviet archival material and other sources and interpreted them his way, conjecturing that in the late 1930s-the period of the Great Terror-"events spun out of... control," catching Stalin off-guard and forcing him to improvise. Whether one accepts what will surely be a highly controversial reassessment, the author acknowledges Stalin was nonetheless "one of history's leading murderers, and his crimes were grotesque." Photos. History Book Club selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Thurston (history, Miami Univ.) challenges conventional interpretations of the Soviet purges of the 1930s. Instead of treating Stalin as a master schemer committed to the extermination of multitudes of imagined opponents, he organizes evidence from scholarly and primary sources, some recently opened, to portray Stalin as both an initiator and a reactor to events who relied heavily upon his chief of the NKVD, the internal security force. Thurston examines the psychology of the Soviet citizenry, emerging from revolution and civil war, and identifies a genuine basis for a fear of opposition groups. The author finds his argument supported in the loyalty of the Soviet population to Stalin with the advent of World War II, which contravenes the examples of Soviets welcoming German troops cited in standard histories. For Thurston, Stalin's Terror reflected that of his people, and they supported him. This is a well-written and thought-provoking study for scholars in the field and subject collections.
Rena Fowler, Humboldt State Univ., Arcata, Cal.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First edition. edition (March 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300064012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300064018
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Robert Thurston is a real historian who tells the truth, and he's not encouraged by any propaganda and he didn't write his book in the interests of those people who are interested in representing Stalin as a bloody dictator. If you want to know the truth, you have to read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book contains many interesting anecdotes about life in the Soviet Union from the mid-1930s until the outbreak of World War II. However, its fundamental arguments -- that the Great Terror was not so great nor even truly a terror -- are badly flawed. The principal problem is that the author spends far too much effort knocking down straw men. Among other things, he attempts to argue that the Soviet Union was not a totalitarian regime, the basis for this being that it did not achieve absolute control over every aspect of Soviet life. But if this is the test, not even the society in Orwell's "1984" was totalitarian, since free thinking was still possible, even if severely punished when caught. If the standard is set so high, the word becomes useless. He also argues that the Terror was not really a terror since its only goal was not the random creation of fear in society. Thurston appears to believe that a true terror could not arise if many of the participants and victims were involved because they actually believed the skewed form of "reality" created by Stalin and his cohorts. Further, Thurston at times almost sounds like an apologist for Stalin & Company, hinting for instance that the rooting out of Trotskyists had some justification in the fact that a "bloc" of like-minded supporters of Trotsky and his policies actually existed and communicated with one another. There are plenty of similar issues and problems with this book which I will not detail. I do not recommend it except as a source of anecdotes for the point that Stalin's terror was not all it might have been.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not a biography of Stalin or even a presentation of his philosophy. Rather an attempt to show that Stalin was not really such a bad person.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
nice book
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Thurston has written an interesting --if flawed--history of the Stalinist terror. Correctly criticizing previous histories of the period, Thurston falls into the trap that awaits most revisionist historians: he spends more time looking for information to disprove their arguments than building his own case. A major problem is the author's use of Soviet archival material. Dr. Thurston uses Soviet statistics to build his case often neglecting their obvious bias. For example, he notes that only 63,889 people were arrested for counterrevolutionary crimes in 1939 (119), while later noting that in the same year more than a million Poles from the eastern Ukraine were deported to Siberia (218). Nevertheless, the book is important for students and academic interested in the impact of the terror on Soviet society.
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