Titel: Life and terror in Stalin's Russia, 1934-...
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
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Terror, in the sense of mass, unjust arrests, characterized the USSR during the late 1930s. But, argues Robert Thurston in this book, Stalin did not intend to terrorize the country and did not need to rule by fear. Memoirs and interviews with Soviet people indicate that many more believed in Stalin's quest to eliminate internal enemies than were frightened by it. Drawing on recently opened Soviet archives and other sources, Thurston shows that between 1934 and 1936 police and court practice relaxed significantly. Then a series of events, together with the tense international situation and memories of real enemy activity during the savage Russian Civil War, combined to push leaders and people into a hysterical hunt for perceived "wreckers". After late 1938, however, the police and courts became dramatically milder. Coercion was not the key factor keeping the regime in power. More important was voluntary support, fostered at least in the cities by broad opportunities to criticize conditions and participate in decision making on the local level. The German invasion of 1941 found the populace deeply divided in its judgement of Stalinism, but the country's soldiers generally fought hard in its defence. Using German and Russian sources, the author probes Soviet morale and peformance in the early fighting. Thurston's portrait of the era sheds light on Stalin and the nature of his regime. It presents a view of the Soviet people, depicted not simply as victims but also as actors in the violence, criticism, and local decisions of the 1930s. Ironically, Stalinism helped prepare the way for the much more active society and for the reforms of 50 years later.From Publishers Weekly:
Stalin has had the reputation of ruling the U.S.S.R. with an iron fist, employing terror to inflict his will on a hapless populace. Accordingly, Stalin was also a paranoid monster who stage-managed the twists and turns of Soviet policy that made him supreme leader. In this strongly revisionist work, Thurston, associate professor of history at Miami University, tries to refute that conception, arguing that Stalin was largely reacting to events around him. The author goes so far as to claim that, though terror existed as part of the Soviet system, Stalin never meant it to be a primary instrument for ruling. Thurston has surveyed recently opened Soviet archival material and other sources and interpreted them his way, conjecturing that in the late 1930s-the period of the Great Terror-"events spun out of... control," catching Stalin off-guard and forcing him to improvise. Whether one accepts what will surely be a highly controversial reassessment, the author acknowledges Stalin was nonetheless "one of history's leading murderers, and his crimes were grotesque." Photos. History Book Club selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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