Editor’s Comment: During a lovely trip with friends that included stops in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary I was startled by the signs still left from the occupation days of the USSR. Upon arriving home I sought an account of what happened between end of WWII in these nations and their liberation in 1989. The Soviet Union’s dominance of these and other countries lasted 45 years and Ms. Applebaum’s account centers on 1944-1956 when Stalinist totalitarian control was imbedded. (I now hope she publishes something that covers the 33 years following as these countries emerged from control.) It’s a bulky, fact heavy book which is sometimes hard to follow but a necessary reminder and tribute to the millions who were imprisoned, killed and suppressed by nationalism.
Favorite Excerpt: “Totalitarian regimes, they declared, all had at least five things in common: a dominant ideology, a single ruling party, a secret police force prepared to use terror, a monopoly on information, and a planned economy. By those criteria, the Soviet and Nazi regimes were not the only totalitarian states. Others—Mao’s China, for example—qualified too.”
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