Many children growing up in the Soviet Union before World War II knew the meaning of deprivation and dread. But for the son of an "enemy of the people", those apprehensions were especially compounded.
When the secret police came for his father in 1938, 10-year-old Anatole Konstantin saw his family plunged into a morass of fear. His memoir of growing up in Stalinist Russia re-creates in vivid detail the daily trials of people trapped in this regime before and during the repressive years of World War II - and the equally horrific struggles of refugees after that conflict.
Evicted from their home, their property confiscated, and eventually forced to leave their town, Anatole's family experienced the fate of millions of Soviet citizens whose loved ones fell victim to Stalin's purges. His mother, Raya, resorted to digging peat, stacking bricks, and even bootlegging to support herself and her two children. How she managed to hold her family together in a rapidly deteriorating society - and how young Anatole survived the horrors of marginalization and war - form a story more compelling than any novel.
Looking back on those years from adulthood, Konstantin reflects on both his formal education under harsh conditions and his growing awareness of the contradictions between propaganda and reality. He tells of life in the small Ukrainian town of Khmelnik just before World War II and of how some of its citizens collaborated with the German occupation, lending new insight into the fate of Ukrainian Jews and Nazi corruption of local officials. And in recounting his experiences as a refugee, he offers a new look at everyday life in early postwar Poland and Germany, as well as one of the few firsthand accounts of life in postwar Displaced Persons camps.
A Red Boyhood takes listeners inside Stalinist Russia to experience the grim realities of repression - both under a Soviet regime and German occupation. A moving story of desperate people in desperate times, it brings to life the harsh realities of the 20th century for young and old listeners alike.
Any additional comments?
A whole lifetime of struggle of twenty years recounted in A Red Boyhood as it steps beyond a history of the time, reaching through the everyday reality of life in a Stalins Russia.
Here is my only but, it is very well told but I would have loved more detail. The utter misery this gentleman & his family went through is truly tragic, but oddly is told in sometimes bland detail. I felt for him but often did not feel the misery of it all. I do not want books to be overly sad, but I felt more details as to how awful his life was with more descriptions would have made this good book a great book.
Saying that Konstantin's story is rich with details of everyday life, attitudes, traditions, and determination allowing readers to see a time where so much was hidden, glimpsing bits and pieces which could only be know by someone who had lived those days, in the horrors of communist Russia.
It details his struggles prior to WW2, through the war, & then his time in communist Berlin, finally with the wonderful ending his ultimate dream does come true.
May I also recommend if you are interested in Russia, to look at Red Notice, that is about modern day Russia & how unbelievably corrupt it is. Red Notice is a truly amazing story that will shock you to the core.
This book is one of the few first hand accounts of its kind. However, the beautifully written text is alone in talent / impact. Please read.
The writing is concise and allows you to see it all as it happened and infer the inevitable emotional ramifications on the those involved. The narrator was great and really got the subtly of the language and the life of this child coming of age in a war torn world.