The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia

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Penguin Books, 2008 - City and town life - 739 pages
15 Reviews
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.

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User Review  - KaterinaBead - LibraryThing

Probably more frightening to read about than the Holocaust. I keep coming back to people with "spoiled biographies," and how all the terror and interrogation resulted in "information spreading and ... Read full review

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User Review  - arubabookwoman - LibraryThing

During Stalin's reign of terror, 25 million people were either shot by execution squads, or were gulag prisoners, were kulaks sent to special settlements, or were slave laborers. These 'repressed ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. His books include A People's Tragedy and Natasha's Dance.

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