Customer Review

77 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destroyer of Myths, 1 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 (Hardcover)
Readers of the Washington Post will be familiar with the lucid and knowledgeable writings of Anne Applebaum.
Her book about the Gulag rightly won her acclaim as an historian of the first rank. This outstanding book of over 650 pages will cement that reputation.

For the very first time we are given a detailed and meticulously researched account of what happened after 1945 in those Baltic states that fell under the tyranny of the Soviets. In so doing Applebaum gives us a new and much needed perspective on the so-called Cold War.

She also destroys the myth that Eastern Europe was a homogeneous grey,backward and poor mass. She also rightly points out that the fighting did not end in 1945. In one or two cases it lasted into the 70's.

The book tells us again of the brutal and murderous treatment by the soviets of anyone accused of being a dissident. Torture, 'show trials' and blackmail were commonplace. Applebaum reveals how Stalin's wartime allies fully consented to the ethnic cleansing that was carried out with typical soviet brutality.Thousands died as a result.Rape was commonplace as were confessions obtained under torture. The Cardinal of Hungary, for example, was forced under torture to admit taking part in plot to steal the crown jewels and begin a new world war.

Soviet totalitarian rule attacked and in some cases destroyed any institutions such as the Catholic Church, fearing any form of rival belief.

'Iron Curtain' will make very uncomfortable reading for those in the West who blamed Western warmongers for Soviet terror, indeed for any of the many apologists for Stalin' monstrous regime. Applebaum exposes the frantic desire of the Soviet system to exterminate any form of independent life, for example, Freemasons. Education became pure propaganda. Even children's stories were rewritten in order to make them ideologically correct.

The book superbly details the eventual failure of this parody of a political system. She explains, however, that the West singularly failed to intervene to hasten the demise of this doomed evil system.

The book concentrates on three states: Poland, Hungary and the former East Germany. They differed greatly. As yet she is unable to tell us what was happening inside the Soviet Union while all this was going on. One day hopefully she will. Until that day we have been given a masterly account of how in those three countries in particular Stalin undermined their institutions, twisted their language and manipulated the people. She has given us an essential window into a hideous world of paranoia, lies and evil that is almost impossible to imagine. Yet it took place over many decades beginning less than 70 years ago.

Anne Applebaum is married to the current foreign minister of Poland. She is a fluent Polish speaker.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 11-20 of 34 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Oct 2012 21:19:51 BDT
I happen to read 2/3 books a week on history, politics, science and international relations. I do not waste my time like many watching trash on tv or propping up a local bar. If you had read and supervised PhD theses (over 140000 words) and marked thousands of essays of degree standard you would not find reading a chore or too time consuming.
My reviews are reviews. I suggest you and others try reading the book before making offensive and silly comments. Perhaps you would like me to award a low grade to a book in spite of it being outstanding.
It is a pity that you are another of those who simply cannot understand that some of us have spent a lifetime learning and love teaching those who wish to learn (regretfully, these are a declining number these days).
I also am a retired senior army officer. No doubt that will cause you concern and bewilderment. Hence my interest in and knowledge of military affairs.
You may be interested to know that a forthcoming book by a renowned scholar will expose the depth of Finnish collaboration with the Germans during the Second World War. Like the Dutch, many Finns would like this to be kept very quiet.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 23:25:39 BDT
Germinal says:
Well forgive me for saying so, but your reviews do not read like they are written by someone of the background that you claim for yourself.

A search of Google Scholars for "Dr B.A. Clayton war studies" drew a blank.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2012 09:46:04 BDT
Good try. Your frequent and very silly comments remind me, and my ex army and academic colleagues, of a saying about marbles.
Please concentrate on improving your reading skills, you may learn something.
I have no intention of wasting my time replying to any more of your ignorant comments.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2012 20:07:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Oct 2012 20:07:52 BDT
Germinal says:
Okay. Whatever.

However, this, from your 'review': "For the very first time we are given a detailed and meticulously researched account of what happened after 1945 in those Baltic states that fell under the tyranny of the Soviets. In so doing Applebaum gives us a new and much needed perspective on the so-called Cold War." is simply not true. There are a number of books which deal with the post-WWII situation in Soviet occupied E.Europe, such as 'Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR' by Lauri Malksoo of 2003 or 'Military Occupation and Diplomacy: Soviet Troops in Romania, 1944-1958' by Sergiu Verona of 1992 or 'Hungary from the Nazis to the Soviets: The Establishment of the Communist Regime in Hungary, 1944-1948' by Peter Kenez of 2009 .....there are others.

Also, "those Baltic states" surely should refer to what are commonly understood as the Baltic States - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - as opposed to "The book concentrates on three states: Poland, Hungary and the former East Germany." none of which is considered a Baltic State (despite the fact that two are on the Baltic) and certainly never Hungary.

"She also destroys the myth that Eastern Europe was a homogeneous grey,backward and poor mass." What myth is this? Who has propounded it? No-one that I've seen, no-one serious anyway.

"The book superbly details the eventual failure of this parody of a political system." Really? The system failed in 1989. The book concludes in 1956. How can this be?

Still, as you're so well educated and I am so ignorant, I am sure there's a simple explanation for so many elementary errors in one short review.

Posted on 11 Oct 2012 15:11:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Oct 2012 06:54:02 BDT
Soooo .... Dr B.A Clayton has suddenly changed his username to 'Sentinel'. Can't say that I am surprised! Can anyone say the word .. busted?

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Oct 2012 21:27:12 BDT
Germinal says:
He's back to Dr B.A.Clayton again. He can change his name as many times as he likes.........Hungary will never be a Baltic State.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Oct 2012 09:30:57 BDT
Juha Sainio says:
As a Finn I would be very interested to know more about the book you are referring to.
Juha (Helsinki)

Posted on 22 Oct 2012 11:00:45 BDT
Chris Green says:
must admit I have really enjoyed this conversation online. the thrust of it is - Dr Clayton, you may well be the big-hitting academic you feel yourself to be but you have probably not come across as you would want. as soon as one is online trying to trympet one's academic achievements you do sound a little bit touchy. better let your review speak for itself

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2012 17:33:44 BDT
Chris Green says:
I would add that Keith Lowe's recent book 'Savage Continent' is an extremely good read and very informative. Also covers much of this region at much of the same time. Perhaps this is a book which wasn't among Dr Clayton's 2-3 books a week...

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Oct 2012 16:45:07 BDT
Chris Green says:
interesting posts Germinal and I have especially enjoyed your teasing the hapless Dr Clayton but it needs pointing out that one needn't be an uncritical conservative to lament what happened to E Europe after 1945

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