Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine

Doubleday. Oct. 2017. 496p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385538855. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780385538862. HIST
For decades, the extreme famine in 1930s Ukraine was portrayed as no worse than what resulted in Russia from Joseph Stalin's policy of agricultural collectivization. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Applebaum (Gulag: A History) places Ukraine in pre- and postrevolution historical context to show why Stalin was intent on destroying all vestiges of independent Ukrainian nationality. Government and closed police archives prove that Ukrainian peasants were especially targeted for starvation as requisitions of grain demanded by Moscow far outstripped supply. At the same time, educators, cultural, and religious leaders were murdered. The exact number of those who died as a result of famine and purges during this time will never be known, but a strong case is made that proportionally, Ukraine was devastated more than other areas of the Soviet Union. Oral histories and memoirs of victims suppressed under the Soviet regime show the human impact of starvation. This insightful book illustrates an area of eastern Europe fraught to this day with religious, nationalist, and urban vs. rural conflict yet still coveted for its fertile farmland.
VERDICT This book will appeal to readers interested in Ukrainian history, Soviet policies, and the current Ukrainian-Russian conflict. [See Prepub Alert, 4/24/17.]
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