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Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Length: 620 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Review

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)

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 21835 KB
  • Print Length: 620 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014102187X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141021874
  • ASIN: B008U7ZS2U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,723 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a journalist, a historian and the author of several books about the Soviet Union and central Europe. Her most recent book, "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956" was a finalist for the National book Award and won the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature. "Gulag: A History" won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. Her writing appears regularly in the Washington Post, Slate, the New York Review of Books and the Spectator, as well as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker and many other journals. She first reported from Poland in 1989, and still lives there part of the time with her husband, Radek Sikorski, a Polish politician and writer. She is also the author of a cookbook, "From a Polish Country House Kitchen" and a travelogue, "Between East and West."

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
This book is probably best read as a follow-on to a decent history of the Second World War, so if you know your Ardennes from your Dunkirk, you'll be good to go. It starts at the end of the war, with the Soviets having stormed Berlin and pretty much continues from there, making a convincing refutation of the general idea that conflict and bad times stopped in 1945. Millions of people in Eastern Europe had it what you might call 'bad' under the Nazis but if Applebaum is to be believed (and with a bibliography like that, not to mention the amount of shoe-leather she's worn out digging out old survivors to talk to in person, why wouldn't she be?) it got, if anything, considerably worse under the Russians.

Over the course of 450 pages, Applebaum shows, layer by layer, how the Russians went about imposing socialism on those Eastern European countries under its control after the end of the war. She shows how the involuntary imposition of a political ideology on a country can only be achieved by means of force and is thus doomed to become a totalitarian rule, no matter what the initial intention of that ideology. In this respect, the simple showing-how-it-was-done, the book is a total success. It is so good, in fact, that it could almost be used as a guidebook on how to set up a totalitarian state. In her attention to this nuts-and-bolts approach, however, Applebaum often neglects to really convey the profound impact the Kremlin's overarching decisions about moving populations and building factories and educating children had on individuals in the same way a Beevor or Hastings might.
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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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