Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56

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Penguin Books Limited, Oct 4, 2012 - History - 656 pages
9 Reviews

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.

Applebaum describes in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organizations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organized, how the media came to be dominated by communists, and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.

Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinized. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal period and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Anne Applebaum captures in the pages of this exceptional work of historical and moral reckoning.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PCorrigan - LibraryThing

Definitely 4 or 5 stars. Overall, I found it to be an utterly fascinating survey on exactly how the Iron Curtain developed and then functioned. It is clearly well-researched and appears to be balanced ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - FBerger - LibraryThing

A good introductory book for those possessing an interest but little prior knowledge of communism and communist regimes of the former Easter Bloc countries of East Germany, Poland, and Hungary. I ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Anne Applebaum is the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize, and Iron Curtain, which in 2013 won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military Literature and the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. She is Professor of Practice at the Institute for Global Affairs, London School of Economics, and a columnist for the Washington Post. She divides her time between Britain and Poland.

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