The whisperers : private life in Stalin's Russia / Orlando Figes.Material type: TextPublisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 2007Edition: 1st edDescription: xxxviii, 739,  p. : ill., maps ; 24 cmISBN: 9780805074611; 0805074619Subject(s): Informers -- Soviet Union | Soviet Union -- Social conditions | Soviet Union -- History -- 1925-1953 | City and town life -- Soviet Union | Communism -- Soviet Union -- Psychological aspectsDDC classification: 306.850947/0904 LOC classification: HN523 | .F54 2007Other classification: 15.70
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A landmark account of what private life was like for Russians in the worst years of Soviet repression. We know of the public aspects of Stalin's dictatorship: the arrests and trials, the enslavement and killing in the gulags. No previous book, however, has explored the regime's effect on people's personal lives. Now, drawing on a huge collection of newly discovered documents, this book reveals the inner world of ordinary Soviet citizens amidst the mistrust, fear, compromises, and betrayals that pervaded their existence. Cultural historian Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrests; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.--From publisher description.
Children of 1917 (1917-28) -- The great break (1928-32) -- The pursuit of happiness (1932-6) -- The great fear (1937-8) -- Remnants of terror (1938-41) -- "Wait for me" (1941-5) -- Ordinary Stalinists (1945-53) -- Return (1953-6) -- Memory (1956-2006).
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal ReviewWhat private life? How Stalin's repression touched everyone, turning friends into denouncers and everyday citizens into collaborators. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
CHOICE ReviewFiges (Birkbeck College, Univ. of London) has written a brilliant and moving book on the impact of Stalinism on ordinary citizens--its terror, omnipresent intrusion into and despoliation of private lives, prison camps, forced labor, quotidian brutality, insidious repression of human kindness and goodness, cynicism, and draining despair and suspicion amidst claims of social improvement. Based upon numerous and exhaustive interviews (available online at ) as well as upon archives and secondary literature, this work stands as the definitive study of the effect of the Soviet experiment on ordinary people. It is a treasure of new and important eyewitness accounts of what happens when a powerful government seeks to recreate a people according to some ideological script and without any moral or institutional checks, objective standards of true and meaningful progress, and any sense of proportionality between ends and means. A major contribution to the literature of the Stalinist era. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. D. J. Dunn Texas State University--San Marcos
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Orlando Figes is the author of Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia and A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891--1924 , which received the Wolfson Prize for History and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New York Review of Books , among other publications, Figes is a professor of history at Birbeck College, University of London.