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Het einde van de rode mens - Leven op de puinhopen van de Sovjet-Unie

(Голоса утопии #5)

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  7,843 ratings  ·  1,212 reviews
Een hartverscheurend epos over leven en lot na de Sovjet-Unie.

Meer dan twintig jaar geleden viel de Sovjet-Unie uit elkaar, ontdekten de Russen de wereld, en ontdekte de wereld de Russen. Even leek een romance in de maak, maar de liefde was snel voorbij. Terwijl men in het Westen nog steeds Gorbatsjov idealiseert en in het Oosten Poetin het begrip ‘democratie’ wel erg ruim
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published October 9th 2014 by De Bezige Bij (first published August 15th 2013)
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Fernando Escobar In my opinion: No. I'm not an expert in Soviet history, and I really enjoyed this book. There is a small summary of Soviet history a the start of the…moreIn my opinion: No. I'm not an expert in Soviet history, and I really enjoyed this book. There is a small summary of Soviet history a the start of the book (which is helpful), but the true core of the book is human experience and their lives, specially the diversity and complex nature of humanity and history. Such a good book. It does go into detail into Soviet concepts and politicians, etc., the book has wonderful notes if you're interested in them; I usually just read the stories, only seldomly did I look into the notes.(less)
Elizabeth Mattias, I don't think so. I didn't read all her books, but as far as I see each one focuses on different point in history. But each book has many…moreMattias, I don't think so. I didn't read all her books, but as far as I see each one focuses on different point in history. But each book has many mentions of other historical events as they all affect the lives of people. For some it may make sense to read them in chronological order. But each book is a collection of stories within itself. So far I didn't see any directly inter-connected stories between the books.(less)
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Start your review of Het einde van de rode mens - Leven op de puinhopen van de Sovjet-Unie
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2016, russia, reviewed
There are some who are in darkness
And the others are in light
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness drop from sight.

Bertold Brecht, The Threepenny Opera


Last year I read Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History, in which Orlando Figes outlines the history of the Soviet Union as ‘a hundred-year cycle of violence in pursuit of utopian dreams’ - a fluently written, very concise synthesis , predominantly political and narrative in structure. Having finished the book, Figes’s
"We sit atop the ruins of socialism like it's the aftermath of war."


One of the best books I've ever read. THE most personally touching and relevant book I've EVER read. A book that penetrates the soul of my being and explains me to myself.

An Autobiographical Review
this book is my autobiography, and it speaks my heart better than I ever have articulated it myself; many details below are personal, but they are also in the book, and what the book is about.
"Communism had an
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The book "Secondhand-Zeit" was written by Svetlana Alexiewitsch in 2013. She reports on life after the Cold War in Russia. The Country is in a phase in which the Country has to find itself again.

Svetlana Alexiewitsch (Nobel Prize Laureate) İnterviewed people from different Social strata of the Nomenklatura, as well as numerous citizens of the former Soviet Union of different age groups, between the Years 1992 and 2012.

The emancipated improvement in life conditions did not simply occur.

Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book about modern Russian history. The author interviewed dozens of Russian citizens and documented their stories about life in the Soviet Union, and how life has been since it fell. There is a helpful timeline at the front of the book, detailing events after Stalin's death in 1953, up to the rise of Putin and to armed conflicts in the Ukraine in 2014.

I started reading this late last summer, before we knew that Russia had interfered with America's presidential election. Even
I was eleven or perhaps twelve years old when I learned that ignorance is no excuse for anything.

That revelation completely changed the way I viewed the world. I ran to my parents, separately, I remember, my eyes wide. I said to each of them, “Ignorance is no excuse!” It won’t save anyone from the repercussions of whatever they are ignorant of. You can die as a result of ignorance or you can participate in something evil as a result of ignorance.

As I remember it, my parents did not say
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There were new rules: if you have money you count- no money you are nothing. Who cares if you have read all Hegel?”

I made a rule one day that every time, whenever I get time to visit any book fair, I’ll purchase at least one non-fiction and that non-fiction must fulfill three criteria. First, its cover should be extremely charming, second, it should be bulky, and third, it must be historical. A world book fair was organized in my city last month, I rigorously followed the rule and the book
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Way back in the early 90s, I remember my parents entertaining some young Russians, who were work colleagues of my maths professor father. I remember being quite struck by how little respect they had for Mikhail Gorbachev, who was still being hailed as a visionary leader in the West. This monumental book goes some way to explaining these feelings, along with many other aspects of life in the former Soviet Union, both before and in the 20 years after the fall of the Communist regime.

Alexievich is
Diane S ☔
3.5 I spent the last month reading this, not because it didn't interest me, it did, but because of the format. Interviews with those who live in Russia from Stalin to I believe 2012. Was just too much for me to read in one sitting, so I read a few each night before bed. A very worthy book, important to hear from those who actually lived thought these times. Some of this was brutal, the gulags, Siberia, the fear but many also missed the days of Communism, missed life under Stalin, saw him as a ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Wind of Change
"I follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change."
Scorpions, Wind of Change, 1990.

Before giving my brief thoughts, a HUGE thanks to goodreads friend Ioana, a native Romanian now in the U.S., whose review is must read. She's a brilliant writer who lived under Communist rule and terror of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Her review is the best I've read on Goodreads for any book; a pure concerto of the personally poetic and the pellucidly profound [Ioana's review]. After
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian-history
3.5 Stars,

Svetlána Alexándrovna Alexiévich is a Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer who writes in Russian. She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

Seconhand time: The Last of the Soviets traces the emotional history of the Soviet and post-Soviet individual through carefully constructed collages of interviews. Svetlana Alexievich weaves a rich catholog of Russian voices telling their stories of Worshipped Russian leaders, of love and death, hard and sad
"I am where the clever guys are,
Where the posters say "Forward!"
Where the working country is singing
Its new workers' songs.

My heart is worried, my heart is troubled,
The postal cargo is being packed
My address is not a house or a street,
My address is the Soviet Union"

-Samotsvety, My address is the Soviet Union (1972)

In 2015, Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This is remarkable for several reasons - Alexievich is not only one of the few women to ever win the
This is such a quotable book. Not because of anti-communist rhetoric, or -propaganda, since the book was originally written in Russian for a widely diverse Russian population. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets is an honest internal dialogue that is taking place, once again, in the kitchens where people gathered to eat, drink, talk, and sleep on the large masonry stoves. Their only little patch of freedom.

Through a journalist, touring the country for several years, conversations are
So yeah, this is as good as everyone says. If you're putting off reading it (because it's long/depressing/you're waiting for the perfect mood to magically descend on you), don't.
Lisa Lieberman
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I’m reading this oral history of the Soviet era through the lens of the present moment. How could I not? The voices of Svetlana Alexievich’s subjects blend with the voices I hear on the news. You’ve got the revolutionaries, fierce believers in the rightness of their cause. Some are idealists, others admit to less pure motives.
Our era—my era—was a great era! It was a great time! We will never live in such a big and strong country again.

For us, mercy was a priest’s word. Kill the White vermin!
Britta Böhler
If you are interested in modern day Russia & if you want to understand the country: read this book!
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, belarus, soviet
There's an old saying (well, it's starting to sound old) that if the 19th century with its optimism and progress ended in 1914, then the 20th century of dictatorships and great wars ended in 1989. The wall fell, the oppressed cut symbols from their flags, the experiment was declared a failure and we started over. Everyone (well, every European, which is what counts) was free and could live as they always wanted, with democracy and justice for all.

No one had taught us what freedom means. We'd
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[3.5] Secondhand Time is an epic study of the aftermath of the Soviet Union through the words of everyday citizens. It is exhaustive and exhausting. After a couple hundred pages, the voices merged together into a chorus of dissatisfaction and I felt smothered by sadness. I was surprised at how many Russians lamented the loss of idealism - replaced by a culture of consumerism. As one man said "A Mercedes is no dream." Well worth reading but I recommend approaching in small chunks.
After finishing "Secondhand Time, The Last of the Soviets", I realized that I am an ignoramus, a lazy news minder, generally a casual observer of headlines containing "Russia", Soviet, etc.. The silence of the Iron Curtain, of my era, has left a wall of uncomprehending disinterest and perhaps even some distaste, with its butcher Stalin, its KGB, its political prisoners and lack of freedoms. As a Westerner, I celebrated Czechoslovakia's independence and idly listened while other countries in the ...more
Guy Austin
Can you add more than Five Stars?

This is a book that completely hits every interest I hold dear. It is a historical memoir of many voices from within the former USSR.

Imagine if one day you woke up and the United States was no more. In its place was several countries suddenly "freed" to be as they want without any support of government. Every political and social fragment of society allowed to grab for the voice of the new republics. What would happen? The Confederate States come together? New
How do you understand the Russian soul? By reading the trigenerational canon of Gogol, Tolstoj and Dostojevski ? Rather the literary revolutionaries such as Gorki or Tsjernysjevski's and Lenin's take on the question "What is to be done?" Perhaps Soviet mainstays such as Boris Polevoj's Bible of the future Afghantsy or that of the kitchen rebels ?


Or put on some tunes.

Perhaps Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets strikes closer to home. The main theme goes easy on the ear: "we wanted something
The 2015 Nobel Prize winner pieces together a sweeping oral history of post-Soviet life. The subjects she interviews range from ages 14 to 87. However, a few common themes emerge from their testimonies: marveling at the naïveté of their assumption that a regime change would improve life; the shame of poverty; disillusionment with Russia’s leadership; the lure of American culture; and so on. This is a weighty book in terms of both length and subject matter. It is worthy of a slow read over some ...more
ETA: it takes a while to get into this book. Don't judge it too quickly. The longer interviews are more interesting and it takes a while until you get to them.


I definitely recommend reading this book. I think it has a few shortcomings but it is still well worth your time. It is an important book; it captures Russian history through the voices of the people who lived through Stalin’s terror, the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. and the first decade and a half of the
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since the 1990s, the practice of Truth Commissions has regularly surfaced, following the South African example. This book by Svetlana Aleksijevich is such a truth commission in itself, in this case for the former Soviet Union. But it's so much more.

It has already been extensively described elsewhere: it is the polyphony and multiformity that is so impressive in this book. They are testimonies of people of all stature and rank: older generations who have experienced the first years of the Soviet
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, family, history
On this awful inauguration day, many Americans are weeping; others are laughing hysterically. I'm still in shock. Last night, instead of distracting myself with Seinfeld or spending time with my friends, I read the final pages of Svetlana Alexievich's harrowing Secondhand Time.

Trump claims to represent the "voice of the people," but he controls it, co-opts it. But Alexievich guides the voices, lets the people speak for themselves. She lets the people, angry, frustrated, marginalized,
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The story is too terrifying and beautiful to believe... I realized that they didn't believe me... Do you believe me?"
"I believe you..." I tell her. "I grew up in the same country as you. I believe you!" [And both of us cry.]
- Part II; On Romeo and Juliet... Except Their Names Were Margarita and Abulfaz

In Secondhand Time, Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, develops a complex and powerful narrative of life in the USSR prior to and post collapse. Through the
Michael Perkins
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Svetlana Alexievich is the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." This is fitting, as her model is Dostoevsky, the creator of the polyphonic novel. "If I hadn’t read Dostoevsky, I would be in despair," she says.

About her approach to creating her books, she writes....

"It’s important to catch words in flight, as they’re born. It’s important not to miss the conversational part of life, which we often neglect,
"Do you really think this country fell apart because people learned the truth about the gulag? That's what people who write books think. People... Regular people don't care about history, they're concerned with simpler things: falling in love, getting married, having kids. Our country fell apart from a deficit of women's boots and toilet paper, because there were no oranges... no goddamn blue jeans."

From SECONDHAND TIME by Svetlana Alexievich, translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich / 2013
Because I generally hate fun, I spent April Fool’s Day avoiding the internet and reading about the downfall of the Soviet Union instead. Svetlana Alexievich’s books are always intense and devastating, it seems, although this one is longer and more thematically diffuse than War's Unwomanly Face and Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future. It seems appropriate to be reading about Russia’s recent history at the moment, to try and understand what the heck is going on. ‘Second-Hand Time’ reads ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
This is one of the most heart wrenching narratives I've ever read. Svetlana Alexievich spent almost twenty years compiling the stories of men and women of all ages during and after the Soviet government ruled and then collapsed.

The unbelievable cruelty and hardship that many endured under the Soviet Regime has, in many eyes, been replaced by an unbridled chaos and greed. They hate the old years but despise the new.

The first people Alexievich talked to were former members of the Communist Party.
Rafa Sánchez
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last book, out of five, from the recent USSR history in Alexievich pen, it records the oral expressions of former Soviets in the aftermath of its empire collapse. Author uses again the choral memories to show the different, contradictory views of witnesses and, in my opinion, the lack of a clear motto makes it difficult to follow in some chapters. I'm afraid there is no epic in current Russian turmoil and for this reason this book falls short from the impressive former four. However the book is ...more
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Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, in 1948 and has spent most of her life in the Soviet Union and present-day Belarus, with prolonged periods of exile in Western Europe. Starting out as a journalist, she developed her own distinctive nonfiction genre, which gathers a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment. Her works include War’s Unwomanly Face (1985), ...more

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“No one had taught us how to be free. We had only ever been taught how to die for freedom.” 49 likes
“The most important thing is spiritual labor...Books...You can wear the same suit for twenty years, two coats are enough for a lifetime, but you can't live without Pushkin or the complete works of Gorky.” 15 likes
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