In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.
At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.
©2012 Anne Applebaum (P)2012 Random House Audio
"So much effort is spent trying to understand democratization these days, and so little is spent trying to understand the opposite processes. Anne Applebaum corrects that imbalance, explaining how and why societies succumb to totalitarian rule. Iron Curtain is a deeply researched and eloquent description of events which took place not long ago and in places not far away - events which contain many lessons for the present." (Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World)
"Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book which effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective and brilliantly researched." (Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad and The Second World War)
"This dramatic book gives us, for the first time, the testimony of dozens of men and women who found themselves in the middle of one of the most traumatic periods of European history. Anne Applebaum conveys the impact of politics and ideology on individual lives with extraordinary immediacy." (Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War)
The title, subtitle, and publisher's notes give the impression that the book covers all of Eastern Europe. Not far into the book, I came to realize that the Balkans, my particular area of interest, are barely covered. Had I known this, I probably would not have purchased the book. It is primarily a book about Poland and East Germany, not Eastern Europe.
I agree with other reviewers that the author goes into much detail but gives almost no analysis or synthesis. A downside of listening to rather than reading this book is that it is difficult to keep all of the different individuals straight. I don't think of myself particularly as a visual learner, but I found it difficult to remember who was who.
Definitely for those with an interest in postwar Germany and Poland. For myself--no sure.
I was hoping this would be an insightful piece about an interesting period of history but instead it was a depressing litany of numbers and dates without revealing the human side of the issue
Not enough story - all seemed quite one sided - obviously horrible things happened but there was no attempt to understand why
The performance was good
This is a precise, detailed, nuanced look at the carving up of Eastern Europe following World War 2. The intimate details of the domination of nations on a community (and often familial) level allowed me to gain a far better understanding of precisely how the Soviet Union achieved the isolation.
Anne Applebaum's Gulag makes an outstanding companion volume, providing the history of the slave prison empire that ran through the Soviet Union.
Someone more familiar with the history, or perhaps more accustomed to narrating non-fiction books.
The narrator (Cassandra Campbell) was dreadfully miscast. I kept thinking "she sounds like she thinks she's reading a novel by Gillian Flynn" -- and then I saw that in fact she's done exactly that. From putting the emphasis on the wrong syllables in words to mispronouncing proper nouns, and generally sounding like she had absolutely no idea of the meaning of what she's saying, Ms. Campbell robbed this book of gravity in her reading. She is not a bad reader for a novel but she was absolutely terrible for this particular work.
I felt I didn’t get anything that I didn’t already get in her book Gulag. Also I found myself getting a little bothered like she was trying to convince me of something instead of history’s story of what happened. Also I thought it was a little obnoxious her view on how technology will become tools of control in the future. I don’t know…maybe too much of her personality coming through in the book. Which maybe that’s a good thing but not for me. She also didn’t reveal very much things from thr Russian side of things and how they must have viewed the war.
I had no problem with the person reading the story
her view on how technology will become tools of control in the future.
It just rubbed me the wrong way I guess when I really liked her "Gulag"
Are we doomed to repeat it? The importance of the subject makes it worth the time investment. I wish it was part of everyone's education.
The frightening insights into state-ism. There really is no difference between them and any other group of fanatics who believe that their worldview should be forced on others, and the unbelievers should be shot. I learned a lot. I understand their mindset / paradigm better now.
and to the 1940s too. One of the more interesting books that this former student of political science has read (listened to) in recent memory.
Seeing examples of how some people made it through this period relatively intact (most didn't).
I was most interested by the people of East Germany -- because I speak German -- but the events in Hungary and Poland were also of interest to me.
No, it was too long for that.
I learned that I have a lot to learn about eastern European life behind the Iron Curtain.
I am a great fan of history and thought this one would be a good listen after hearing the author interviewed on NPR. Unfortunately for me there are just too many details and it starts getting boring after awhile. I found myself skipping through because I wanted it to be done.
No. I think this book was boring. Too much detail and not enough story
Far too detailed and bounces around far too much to be enjoyable
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