Customer Review

23 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not do justice to its material, 4 May 2009
This review is from: The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia (Paperback)
About half way through, this book becomes a struggle to read. This is a huge shame as it should be a classic. It brings together the experiences of families living in Stalin's Russia and offers a window into the homes (usually overcrowded single rooms) and lives of ordinary families. The book succeeds best when it shows us the traumatic impact on both individual and family life of the various policies Stalin introduced.

The problem with this book is it is, in fact, two books; the story of private lives in Stalin's Russia and a biography of Konstantin Simonov (who plays a bigger role in the book than Stalin - check the index to compare references!). Chapter 6, titled after one of Simonov's war time poems, is where the weight of Simonov starts to become really apparent.

The result is an overlong disjointed book that does not do justice to the astonishing stories of ordinary people trying to survive as families in Stalin's Russia.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Apr 2010 09:07:40 BDT
February83 says:
It's = it is
Its = the possessive if it
At least pay the writer the courtesy of correct grammar

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Apr 2010 10:33:58 BDT
Wolfgang says:
C'mon, Figes, we know it's you! Who else could have posted such inane reply to a comment?

Posted on 1 Apr 2012 22:56:35 BDT
T. Maddison says:
"The book succeeds best when it shows us the traumatic impact on both individual and family life of the various policies Stalin introduced." Which, personally, I thought the extended attention on Simonov added to greatly. Unlike in the case of so many of the tragic individuals and families in the book, through Simonov we in addition get to examine a career that thrived under Stalin, but also to see at what cost to his conscience and moral courage, along with how all this played out in at least one significant case in the light of the de-Stalinsation process.
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