Sep 032013
 

iron-curtain-20882-20130113-95World War II came to an end in large measure because the Russian Army came to the aid of the Allied Forces.  Irate at having lost twenty million citizens, Stalin’s troops raced into Germany to crush the Nazi Army.  Their war prize was control over the countries of Eastern Europe:  Poland, East Germany, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia.  Initially welcomed as liberators, Stalin’s communists enforced brutal dictatorships across the bloc.  Dissenters were shipped to Siberia, tortured, or disappeared.  Economies fell under total state control.  Freedoms of the press, dissent, religion, even thought were strictly and forcefully prohibited.  Anne Applebaum’s book is a comprehensive survey of how these countries were crushed, by whom, for what purpose, and in what time frame.  Divided by subject matter — religion, economy, industry, etc. — Applebaum provides myriad examples first from Poland, then Hungary, and then Germany.  Repeat.  The net result is a prize winning piece of research (National Book Award Finalist and a Pulitzer), but a book that is no more interesting to read than a communist manifesto orated during a May Day march.

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