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The Great Terror: A Reassessment

by Robert Conquest

Buy the book: Robert Conquest. The Great Terror: A Reassessment

Release Date: October, 1991

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Robert Conquest. The Great Terror: A Reassessment


When I read the first edition of this book back during the Cold War, it was difficult to believe the quality of scholarship and research effort that Conquest demonstrated throughout this book, written while the KGB was still running amok. What most general histories dismissed with a few sentences or paragraphs as "millions died or were imprisoned", Conquest gave us the names, the chronology, and the results of Stalin's paranoid Reign of Terror. Now that the archives have become more accessible, Conquest is able to update his work and further illuminate this darkest period of Russian (and perhaps world) history. ANYTHING written by Conquest is worth reading if you want to understand the workings of 20th century Soviet politics and society.


Definitive work on one of history's darkest episodes...

Robert Conquest's The Great Terror, a Reassessment, is they definitive English language work on Stalin's purges. The book has had some criticism from the far left, but Conquest has been largely vindicated by the now open Soviet archives.
This book is largely dispassionate. Conquest resists the urge to excessively moralize. Instead, he treats his subject matter in largely chronological order, with a few diversions for background. The result is a detailed catalog of the horrors of the purges. The text relies on excerpts from the trail transcripts, and these are absolutely chilling taken in context of the result. Each trial is worse than the other. In fact, to some extent the trials are worse because of the sheer routine the purges degenerated intoforced confessions, self-betrayals, they all became commonplace. Society turned against itself, until you were not considered a responsible citizen unless you denounced somebody; turning on your neighbors, friends, even relatives became a method of insuring personal security and survival. This book is 'must' reading for anybody who wants to understand Stalinism and this period of the Soviet Union. The lessons learned should never be forgotten...


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