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The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe

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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  29 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In The Left Side of History Kristen Ghodsee tells the stories of partisans fighting behind the lines in Nazi-allied Bulgaria during World War II: British officer Frank Thompson, brother of the great historian E.P. Thompson, and fourteen-year-old Elena Lagadinova, the youngest female member of the armed anti-fascist resistance. But these people were not merely anti-fascist; ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 20th 2015 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 26th 2015)
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Aaron Finestone
Oct 19, 2014 Aaron Finestone rated it it was amazing
The Left Side of History--the most entertaining book about Communism I ever read

If you think that the study of Communism is boring, you are wrong. Kristen Ghodsee, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College, has written an eyeopening and entertaining story of how Communism came to Bulgaria and how the average citizen suffered when socialism was replaced by the free market economy.

The Left Side of History (Duke University Press) begins with the story of Major Frank Thompson, a Bri
...more
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
Ghodsee's book gives subtle reasoning to why people supported communism at the end of World War 2 beyond the knee-jerk reaction where “communism” is a dirty word that is quickly matched with Stalin and the Soviet labour camps.

The book centres around Ghodsee's quest to find out more about why a British Army Officer would have been working with the communist partisans. It's a mixed book. I had expected more detail on the partisan movement on Bulgaria, particularly the work of the British officer F
...more
Linda
In August, I went to a book reading by the author at Longfellow Books in Portland Maine in August 2015. Ghodsee is a professor at Bowdoin College (just up US 1 from Portland) and an ethnographologist. Yes, I had to look up ethnography to have some clue as to what she taught! I found an article that helped -- see http://www.brianhoey.com/General%20Si.... Ghodsee doesn't think this book should be classified under ethnography because it is too subjective. As she says in the prologue, "I do not come ...more
Viola Eade
Mar 08, 2015 Viola Eade rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for young people who want to learn about socialism or communism and what it actually meant. The stories told are about real teenagers who fought against the Nazis in WWII, what they were fighting for, and what it means today. The writing is excellent for a nonfiction book, and there are a lot of nice, old photos. To quote another reviewer, "this is definitely the most entertaining book about communism I've ever read!"
Bruce
I put this book in several categories because parts of it fall into each of the categories. Bulgaria was one of the few countries that actively sided with NAZI Germany. The partisans were fighting a brutal regime hoping to bring 'democratic socialism' to their country. Though many were members of the Communist Party their ideals differed from Stalin's. Unfortunately, the 'West' equated communism with Stalinism. After the war was won partisans were honored for their sacrifices and myths and ...more
Stephen Bach
Jul 24, 2015 Stephen Bach rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book, and gives a view of communism in eastern Europe which is different from the common views of it. It was a very compelling read. And I cried at one point simply from realizing the positive and deep impact that Elena Lagadinova had on the lives of women, especially in post-WW II Bulgaria.
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Kristen Ghodsee earned her Ph.D. at Berkeley and is a Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College. She is the author of numerous articles and books including The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea (Duke University Press, 2005) and Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton ...more
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