The critics who accused Snyder as a fascist apologist and sympathizer are reaching quite a bit in my opinion.
The suffering described in the chapters dedicated to the Ukrainian famine or Stalin's purge of Katyn pale in comparison the atrocities Dirlewanger and the Waffen SS committed in their rampage across Belarus. Snyder deftly details all of these events, but there was never a doubt in my mind while reading that Hitler's regime committed worse sins than Stalin's.
As a layperson, this book came across as very thorough and fair. The amount of primary sources Snyder has pored through and synthesized is outstanding, and it's a testament to his skill as a writer that the meticulous nature of the book never really feels dull or repetitive.
If there's any singular criticism I can give, it's that Synder's thesis seems a bit self-evident: There was no worse person to be than a neutral civilian living on the eastern front in the year 1942. Not exactly a shocking revelation, but if you're interested in the history of WWII outside of a military context, this book is essential IMO.
A heart-wrenching, readable, meticulously researched, monumental history of the origins of Stalin's Communism and Hitler's National Socialism, and the symbiosis and commonalities of their political and social policies carried out between them that resulted in scales of monstrous depravites never before contemplated, let alone carried out, on our planet. Destined to become a classic, a must read for every thinking person interested in the origins and history of these two movements that continue to shake the world today, of WW2, and indeed a cautionary tale of the obscene depths to which mankind can descend.
Snyder’s history looks at the events occurring from the early 1930s to the 1950s in the region that falls in the triangle between Berlin, Leningrad and the Black Sea and attempts to view those events in an interrelated, broader perspective. As Snyder frames it, “In this competition for memory, the Holocaust, the other German mass killing policies, and the Stalinist mass murders became three different histories, even though in historical fact they shared a place and time”. To put each of the “three histories” in context does not minimize them but shows how the interaction of the three histories influenced each of the others.
Snyder chides the countries and leaders engaged in “competitive martyrology” post-WWII and some of the results from just such exaggeration. He closes with one of his themes in the book stressing the uniqueness of each life in the compilation of these death records. His intertwining of personal accounts and anecdotes in the history of the region moves the action beyond simply recording what happened and provides human dimensions. As Snyder stresses in Chapter 8:
“People were perhaps alike in dying and in death, but each of them was different until that final moment, each had different preoccupations and presentiments until all was clear and then all was black.” It is easy to become numb as the deaths mount and the atrocities worsen, but Snyder restores the humanity to the victims so they are no longer just “round numbers.”
An impressive book: highest recommendation.
Very important book about WWII and the destruction of Poland and its population by the Nazis and the Russians. For for readers who have little knowledge of what happened to Poland and the massive suffering of its populations under the Nazis and the deportations by Russians of innocent civilians to Siberian prison camps where 70% of the exiles died.
This book packs an emotional punch. Slavishly researched and impeccably written. Engaging and terrifying.
Lots of numbers but still very readable and very eye-opening.
The best book I have ever read. I suggest to anybody who care a little bit of the period to read and understand of the tragedy of the period. There are issues that I was not aware. The book tells the story of the times before the WWII and those impact on the starting the WWII. Comment by Illya Osherov
a devastating account of the not 6 but 14 million people, a still conservative estimate, killed by the exterminating regimes of Stalin and Hitler from 1933 to 1945, the larger number kept secret behind the Iron Curtain in the name of course of national security before the demise of the Soviet Union, and an ardent plea by the author himself for the commemoration of each and every invaluable life lost lest we lose ourselves our own humanity
This book has a massive bibliography.
A history of the mass killings led by Hitler and Stalin.
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