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Summary

The momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain

In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the 20th century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events. 

The book draws on a mass of archival material and firsthand testimony available only since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger. It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly 'antirevolutionary' elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering. 

The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine's cultural and political leadership - and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all. Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some Western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations but that the country's true history should be buried along with its millions of victims. 

Red Famine, a triumph of scholarship and human sympathy, is a milestone in the recovery of those memories and that history. At a moment of crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it also shows how far the present is shaped by the past. 

©2017 Anne Applebaum (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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Chilling

This book is a warning from history of the dangers of communism, too few people nowadays know of this history. An important book.

7 people found this helpful

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Eye-opening and very scary

This book reveals the horrors of the Moscow-planned famines in Ukraine and the other Soviet actions to destroy Ukrainian society.

Something too briefly mentioned is that, because of their treatment by the Communists, some Ukrainians fought for the Nazis against the Soviet forces but, when they realised what the Nazis intended, set up as Partisans, attacking both the Soviets and the Nazis.

Red Famine is really worth reading/listening to. The narrator performs excellently.

6 people found this helpful

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  • 20-07-19

not easy to engage

I lasted into the preface. The prose was lumpy and repetitive. Key phrases were overused and that was just the preface.
I just know i wouldn't have lasted much longer. What with the combo of that and the Narration it wasn't easy to engage with this important book.
The narration lacked the gravitas required, with little or no cadence to emphasize what was happening. It couldnt have been easy with that script however.
If only we could bring back Laurence Olivier, he could bring historical solemnity and grandeur to reading a shopping list.

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Terrifying story told and narrated with precision

I listenened to this as I lay in bed with Covid. Indispensable listening at a time like this. Applebaum's prose is powerfully simple and the narration had a steely lucidity to match

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Excellent

Devastating but essential coverage of Ukraine’s history. A warning from the past. Long live the fighters.

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exceptional and heartbreaking

compulsory listening, scholarly and impassioned. resonances with the current Russian War against Ukraine are terrifying.