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Winner of the DUFF COOPER and LIONEL GELBER prizes. A Sunday Times, The Times, FT and Evening Standard book of the year 2017
The momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain.
In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events.
The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only available since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger. It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly ‘anti-revolutionary’ elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering.
The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine’s cultural and political leadership – and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all. Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it, and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations, but that the country’s true history should be buried along with its millions of victims. Red Famine, a triumph of scholarship and human sympathy, is a milestone in the recovery of those memories and that history. At a moment of crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it also shows how far the present is shaped by the past.
Anne Applebaum's Red Famine - powerful, relentless, shocking, compelling - will cement her deserved reputation as the leading historian of Soviet crimes. -- Daniel Finkelstein * The Times * Magisterial and heartbreaking -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Evening Standard * It remains a tragedy too little known. Applebaum's book, compelling in its detail and in its empathy with those who suffered, will do much to remedy that ignorance and to place the current crises and confrontations in Ukraine into a longer historical context -- Nick Rennison * The Sunday Times * A vivid and informative account of the Ukrainian famine -- Sheila Fitzpatrick * Guardian * Anne Applebaum has written an exhaustive, authoritative and eloquent book. She deals with questions that have hitherto lacked unequivocal answers -- Donald Rayfield * Literary Review * Red Famine, superbly researched and written, shows how blind adherence to ideology can bring murder most foul -- Ian Thomson * Tablet * Applebaum has painstakingly mined a vast array of sources, many of which were not available when the historian Robert Conquest wrote his pioneering history -- Adam Hochschild * The New York Times * What has come to light, and what Ms Applebaum synthesises in lucid and vigorous prose, is a devastating circumstantial case. Red Famine presents a Bolshevik government so hell-bent on extracting wealth and controlling labour that it was willing to confiscate the last remaining grain from hungry peasants (mostly but not exclusively in Ukraine) and then block them from fleeing famine-afflicted areas to search for food * Economist * Her account will surely become the standard treatment of one of history's great political atrocities. ... Russians of today can decide whether they wish to accept a Stalinist version of the past. But to have that choice, they need a sense of the history. This is one more reason to be grateful for this remarkable book. -- Timothy Snyder * Washington Post *
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