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Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 Hardcover – 30 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books (30 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385515693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385515696
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.2 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 980,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a journalist who writes about international relations, an historian who writes about the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and a columnist for Slate and the Washington Post. She writes in the US and Britain for, among others, the New York Review of Books, the New Republic and the Spectator.
Her most recent book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, was a finalist for the National book Award. Her previous book, Gulag: A History won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction.
She currently runs the Global Transitions program at the Legatum Institute in London. In the academic year 2012-2013 she holds the Phillipe Roman chair in International History at the London School of Economics. She is married to Radek Sikorski, the Polish politician and writer - and is also the author of a cookbook, From a Polish Country House Kitchen.

Product Description


Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book which effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective and brilliantly researched. (Antony Beevor)

Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain [is] certainly the best work of modern history I have ever read. (A.N. Wilson Financial Times)

Applebaum's description of this remarkable time is everything a good history book should be: brilliantly and comprehensively researched, beautifully and shockingly told, encyclopedic in scope, meticulous in detail... it is a true masterpiece. (Keith Lowe Sunday Telegraph)

In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity... Others have told us of the politics of this time. Applebaum does that but also shows what politics meant to people's lives, in an era when the state did more to shape individual destinies than at any time in history. (John Connelly Washington Post)

Iron Curtain is modern history writing at its very best; assiduously researched, it wears its author's considerable erudition lightly. It sets a new benchmark for the study of this vitally important subject. (Roger Moorhouse Independent on Sunday)

Anne Applebaum's masterly book gives for the first time, a systematic explanation of the other, largely untold, side of the story... it is a window into a world of lies and evil that we can hardly imagine. (Edward Lucas Standpoint) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a historian and journalist, a regular columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. She is the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London, and she divides her time between Britain and Poland, where her husband, Radek Sikorski, serves as Foreign Minister. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Matthews on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am just about old enough to remember 'Eastern Europe'; I can remember school books and soon-to-be-outdated atlases in which Europe was neatly divided in half, West and East. I can just about remember the 'fall of Communism', specifically I remember the tanks on the street of Romania, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and later the collapse of the Soviet Union. One of my headteachers actually managed to get hold of a piece of concrete he solemnly told us was a piece of the Berlin Wall. I got an idea of Eastern Europe as a strange and homogenous region with identical cultures, histories, and similar sounding place names, all built out of concrete. Later, I learnt about spheres of influence, the Warsaw Pact, the Cold War, and Totalitarianism, all of which seemed to reinforce these ideas.

Later still, and I started to meet people from 'Eastern Europe' and found my ideas were challenged. Not least, people from the Czech Republic and Poland aren't especially impressed with the 'East/West' dichotomy and see themselves as inhabitants of central Europe, a place that was never in my old books. I have visited both countries, and found that the old Habsburg cities survived the horrors of World Wars and Communism, if not intact, then with their historic hearts still beating. I realised that my earlier ideas weren't just challenged, but wrong. So was Communist 'Eastern' Europe just a veneer, or a piece of Western propaganda? How did the Soviet Union come to dominate such a large territory so completely?

So it was with some interest I looked forward to the paperback publication of this book; the title alone seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. P. In Reading U.K. on 29 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much. I have always wanted to understand why Russia and the West fought together against Germany in the Second World War, and then went on to become enemies with the division of Europe. This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand this period of European history, and the background to the subjugation of Eastern Europe by Russia after the Second World War.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on 5 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anne Applebaum's last book, 'Gulag' related events that were so horrifying that you were almost glad when the book came to an end. The story here is also of cruelty and failure, but not on such a terrible scale. It shows how ordinary, decent people were made to conform, partly at least because of the threat of terror, and how the Soviet backed governments in Eastern Europe tried to divert attention from their failure to get public support or to significantly improve living standards. It ends with the doomed attempts at rebellion in East Germany and then Hungary.
A lot of research must have gone into this book, but the author manages to present her ideas clearly and simply. Partly of necessity, she has to concentrate on only three countries, Hungary, Poland and East Germany. She shows that the conventional picture of the Cold War only breaking out in 1948-9 is misleading. The communists genuinely believed, after the War, that they could win popular elections. But they were soon disabused of these ideas. Instead, they effectively seized power and crushed any opposition.
By relating the personal stories of many of the people that she was able to interview, the author is able to make the story that she is relating much more interesting. A major theme is how private institutions were not allowed to survive for very long under Communism.
This book is well worth reading. It extends our knowledge of what happened in Eastern Europe after the War, and never fails to interest the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pompom VINE VOICE on 15 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Applebaum continues to develop an impressive scholarly collection of work which, given her journalist training, proves to be readily accessible and commercially successful. Iron Curtain is yet another well researched, written and structured work which covers a fascinating and somewhat under exposed period of European history. Applebaum captures the inherent drama and tragedy of the period, as nations emerged from the war only to see their guarded optimism dashed by the catastrophe of Stalinism. Her review of the period covers East Germany, Hungary and Poland to the exclusion of the other nations, but given the depth of research and the comprehensive study, the themes and issues she captures, speaks more broadly of East Europe. There are many more such books that deserve to illuminate these other countries and Applebaum deserves to be credited as the pathfinder for this generation as we look to relearn and gain a better perspective of our recent past.
An insightful and comprehensive work which should be a must for any post-graduate reading list and military and political student or professional. It does have an appeal and is accessible for the general reader, but given its very precise and thorough review of a tumultuous 12 years, it may not attract as broad a readership as it deserves and very much merits. For those wavering to decide if to buy it or not, no need to hesitate - if you enjoy reading history, this book bears real witness to events which even now echo with significance for the contemporary world.
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