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From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States [Paperback]

By Paul Hollander (Editor) & Anne Applebaum (Foreward By)
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Item description for From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States by Paul Hollander & Anne Applebaum...

This landmark volume is the first to collect writings by the victims of communist totalitarianism throughout the world. Many of the narratives gathered here come from well-known authors; all are authentic. Together, they help us finally to come to terms with the tremendous human cost of communism's allegedly noble ideals.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   760
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   2.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 15, 2007
Publisher   Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN  1933859490  
ISBN13  9781933859491  

Availability  0 units.

More About Paul Hollander & Anne Applebaum

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! About the Author:
Paul Hollander is Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. Besides Political Pilgrims, he is the author of Soviet and American Society, The Many Faces of Socialism, The Survival of the Adversary Culture,
and the forthcoming Decline and Discontent: Communism and the West Today.

Paul Hollander currently resides in Amherst, in the state of Massachusetts. Paul Hollander was born in 1932.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Ideologies > Communism & Socialism
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Violence in Society

Reviews - What do customers think about From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States?

A little dry, but still impressive  Aug 16, 2006
Maybe it is just me, or maybe something is lost in the translation for the exerpts reproduced in this volume, but the reading was a little rougher going than I expected. It is, however, wide-ranging, with voices from some of the lessor-examined communist regimes, and it definitely worth a look if this is your field of interest.
An excellent companion to The Black Book of Communism  May 6, 2006
But unlike the Black Book, which derives most of its information from recently accessible Soviet archives and other sources, this emotionally charged tome relies on the accounts of victims themselves, which makes it even more damning in my view. This book should convince many that Communism in practice is every bit as murderous as its rival totalitarian ideology Fascism, which is considered the epitome of political evil.

Several of the contributions are well known, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (USSR), Eugenia Ginzburg's "Journey into the Whirlwind" (USSR), Harry Wu's "Bitter Winds" (China) and Armando Valladares "Against All Hope" (Cuba). Some I myself have not heard of, such as Venko Markowski's "Goli Otok: Island of Death" (Yugoslavia) and Nika Stajka's "The Last Days of Freedom" (Albania). Others have been out of print for some time, such as Bao Ruo-wang's "Prisoner of Mao" (China). In all there are 45 different horror stories in this book that will keep you up at night.

The shocking details of humiliation and suffering in these personal accounts makes the book a more difficult read than the aforementioned Black Book, which for the most part is written in a fairly dry, scholarly tone as it recounts the numbers repressed and killed in various Communist dictatorships. Clearly numbers alone, and we're talking tens of millions, don't tell the full story. We learn firsthand that Khmer Rouge soldiers occasionally sliced open the bellies of pregnant women, in front of terrified spectators, and ripped the fetuses from them. In Castro's Cuba dissidents are subjected to horrific abuse in psychiatric prisons (similar abuse happened in the USSR, China and Romania). In Mengistu's Ethiopia during the "Red Terror," bullet-ridden bodies of men, women and even high school students were left lying in the streets or publicly displayed. In Enver Hoxha's Albania prisoners at the Nizhaveci camp were tormented and ultimately drowned in muddy swamps filled with leeches. In Nicaragua under the Sandinistas prisoners were subjected to brutal beatings during interrogation, mock executions, believable death threats against family members, food and water deprivation and extremely harsh conditions of confinement. And in North Korea's prison camps public executions by hanging and firing squad (often of inmates attempting to escape) are commonplace.

Clearly these selections from victims all over the world prove that repression and terror, with varying degrees of severity, were common practices in all Communist states.

The book opens with a thoughtful Foreword from Anne Applebaum and an absolutely brilliant 64-page introductory essay by Editor Paul Hollander. It rivals and perhaps surpasses Stephane Courtois's excellent (yet controversial in some circles) introduction to The Black Book of Communism. He hits the nail on the head again and again. He rightly tells us that while the mass murders of Hitler's National Socialists have stimulated a huge and continued outpouring of righteous indignation and hand wringing, the similar mass murders of Communist rulers such as Josef Stalin and Pol Pot have inspired little corresponding concern. Indeed, it seems that history's most prolific killer, Chinese Red Emperor Mao Tse-tung, has a better reputation amongst the cultural elites than does Ronald Reagan. And Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Castro's ruthless henchman who authorized hundreds of executions at La Cabana prison and sometimes participated in the killings himself, has become a pop culture phenomenon. T-shirts emblazoned with his "romantic" image are available in trendy shops at your local shopping mall. Could you imagine a t-shirt featuring General Pinochet's likeness being sold anywhere?

Hollander points out that left-wing intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and revisionist historians such as J. Arch Getty (his 1985 book "Origins of the Great Purges" attempted to minimize the numbers killed in Stalin's Great Terror to mere "thousands" and portrayed Stalin not as an instigator of this horrendous bloodbath, but as a moderator in a bureaucratic turf war who was forced to authorize mass executions. The now accessible Soviet archives have proven him dead wrong on both counts. Applebaum rightly states in her Foreword that the archives "have established that the victims numbered in the millions, not the thousands.") coldly dismissed defectors and refugees accounts of Communist atrocities and deplored them being used in historical works. Recently, New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof was greatly skeptical of "uncorroborated reports" from survivors of North Korea's concentration camps, which are arguably some of the most inhumane in the world today. Yet it seems that memoirs and accounts by survivors and exiles of right-wing regimes are treated as gospel truth. Who, for instance, has questioned the truthfulness of Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela or Ariel Dorfman? Who would dare take someone to task for exaggerating the "horrors" of the McCarthy era besides perhaps a right-wing conservative pundit like Ann Coulter?

Even the most blatant apologists for Josef Stalin, such as Eric Hobsbawm, who boasted that the mass murder of 20 million people would have been totally justified had the great socialist utopia been realized, still enjoy an excellent moral and intellectual reputation in Western academic circles. One of the most disgusting apologists for this mass murderer, Grover Furr, who argues that good ole Uncle Joe was really an advocate of democracy, is a tenured English professor at Montclair State University. By contrast many of Hitler's apologists, like David Irving, Ernst Zundel and Germar Rudolf, are rotting inside prison cells in various social "democratic" European countries for the crime of "Holocaust denial." I could go on with these double standards forever it seems.

I'm sure some might be reluctant to purchase a book with contributions they've read elsewhere, especially Solzhenitsyn's popular "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." But as I mentioned earlier there are many here almost unheard of and others long out of print. The introduction alone is almost worth the price of the book! This is an absolute must have, especially for those who enjoyed The Black Book of Communism.

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