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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  578 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The Harvest of Sorrow is the first full history of one of the most horrendous human tragedies of the 20th century. Between 1929 and 1932 the Soviet Communist Party struck a double blow at the Russian peasantry: dekulakization, the dispossession and deportation of millions of peasant families, and collectivization, the abolition of private ownership of land and the concentr ...more
Paperback, 411 pages
Published November 12th 1987 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1986)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  578 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Mikey B.
Page 299 (my book) Khrushchev quote
“No one was keeping count”

This is about one of the more appalling episodes in the history of the Soviet Union under Stalin. The centerpiece is the treatment of the ethnic and farming communities in Ukraine during 1929 to 1934.

By following the dogma of Marxism-Leninism class war was declared on the so-called rich farmers of Ukraine labeled as kulaks. The definition of kulak varied – it could be a peasant farmer who owned a horse or two, a pig or two, who employe
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Hitler was a piker compared with Joseph Stalin. Stalin created the gulags in the 1920's, and created a man-made famine to eliminate most of the population of the Ukraine who refused get aboard his economic plan. This work is one of the pieces of evidence proving that more people on this earth were murdered in the name of State Communism than from any other single ideology. Mao, Pol Pot, and all of the other State sponsored secular tyrants learned their trade from Stalin. Stalin alone probably mu ...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All readers be they history buffs or not
Recommended to Czarny by: Norman Davies
The importance of this book is that it finally silenced those who denied that there had been a man-made famine in the Ukraine betweem 1929 and 1932. Within 5 years of its publication in 1986, the overwhelming major of academic historians in the West were willing to acknowledge that there had indeed been a Ukrainian "Holocaust". From the 1930s to the early 1980s communist intellectuals and fellow travellers in the West had essentially succeeded in convincing the public that the stories of the fam ...more
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was banned in Canada when it first came out. (I had to have it). It is such a gut-wrenching account of how people were forced into collectives, forced to endure famine and hardships that were hidden from the western world. The world knew one history of that time period but the reality, hidden by the Soviets, was another entirely. It isn't a book for the faint of heart and the pictures boggle the mind. With the help of Stalin approximately 14 million people died in and around the Ukrain ...more
A classic--- and a vital part of anyone's library on 20th-c. Russia. A horrifying account of what Stalin--- and the Party apparatus; never never never think it was all Stalin alone ---did to the Russian peasantry as part of forced industrialisation: crushing the peasantry in order to extract the surplus that would feed the cities and the workers needed for the manic industrial growth projected under the 5-Year Plans, exporting grain to pay for building up Soviet industry even while the countrysi ...more
Nicole Timko
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm a person of Ukrainian descent on both parents' sides of the family. I first learned about this horrific event in 2nd year university when I took a course on Poland and Ukraine. As much as people blame Stalin and he is to blame for most things, but this didn't just happen in Ukraine (and be careful not to say the Ukraine. It isn't a province, it's a country) but it happened in Russia itself. There wasn't just dekulakization in Ukraine. It happened in the farm lands in Russia as well. Conquest ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is a curious thing, but the public schools do not teach anything about this subject in their history classes. This book should be required reading!
It is not an easy read any way you look at it, but it is an important book. Please pick it up and give it a read.
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian
**The Harvest of Sorrow**is the first full history of one of the most horrendous human tragedies of the 20th century. Between 1929 and 1932 the Soviet Communist Party struck a double blow at the Russian peasantry: dekulakization, the dispossession and deportation of millions of peasant families, and collectivization, the abolition of private ownership of land and the concentration of the remaining peasants in party-controlled "collective" farms. This was followed in 1932-33 by a "terror-famine," ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
I feel a bit bad marking this low, as at the time when it was written it was probably quite brave and necessary, but while Conquest (awesome author name, by the way) lays out an unapologetic indictment of the Soviet government for its intentional infliction of famine on the Ukraine, and its damnable stubbornness in insisting on ideologically-motivated reforms even in the teeth of overwhelming evidence that they were failures, the writing is weak, the organization is scattered (alternating chrono ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a history of the famine in the Ukraine brought about by Stalin's collectivization program and enforced by terror. It is a horrible story and that is both depressing and still little known today. Conquest is a superb writer and the book is captivating to read even as it is difficult. There are other treatments of this series of events, such as Bloodlands, that place it in context with other atrocities of the time. There is even an emerging genre of these events, such as histories of the I ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia
The best description of Stalin's forced collectivization of agriculture -- arguably the most monstrous crime of a monstrous century.
Peter Kirsop
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone who believes communism is good. It isnt.
Aurimas Nausėda
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Istoriko knyga apie Ukrainos bado metus. Istorinių faktų atpasakojimas primenant apie Sovietų valdžios žemės ūkio eksperimentus, žmonių sąmonės keitimą.
Thomas Armstrong
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was reading Conquest's book on The Great Terror, about Stalin's show trials in the late thirties, but then thought I should go back a few years and learn about Stalin's terror famines. I'd also read Hungry Ghosts about China's terror famine in the mid-fifties and wanted to see how it played out in Russia. Like Hungry Ghosts, this was an incredibly eye-opening and shocking book. We were never taught about any of this in school. The stupidity and sheer evil of Stalin is really highlighted here i ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: european-history
Conquest clearly explains the precursors to famine, the tragedy itself, and its aftermath. Many first-hand accounts are quoted, often at length, from both victims and government "activists," allowing for an intimate understanding of specific people's experiences in context. Conquest also writes of the West's knowledge of and reaction to the famine, including a description of Stalin's tactics of obfuscation. Statistics are offered frequently. Harvest of Sorrow reads as a relatively objective acco ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: general reader as well as specialists
Recommended to John by: bibliography of Montefiore's "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tzar.
Shelves: soviet-history
A most engaging and horrifying book. It conveys the circumstances and the means by which the Soviet government put to death at least 10 million peasants. Most of these people, the adults at least, opposed collectivation to some degree. Many others were members of national minorities, such as the Ukranians, who may not have opposed 'Soviet power,' i.e. collectivation, at all, but who were members of national minorities, Ukranians, for example, devoted to their national language, culture, traditio ...more
David M
Aug 25, 2016 marked it as to-read
Earlier this year I read Timothy Snyder's great book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which gives a truly horrifying account of the Ukranian famine. Snyder, however, gives a much lower figure than 14.5 million, something closer to 4 million. Why this huge discrepancy?

This maybe points to a larger question. Famines have been common throughout most of human history. By the end of the first world most the inhabitants of the Russian empire were starving or severely malnourished. Nichola
Philip Kuhn
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent piece of historical research and writing. Most Americans don't know anything about the frightful events that are detailed in this book. Conquest does an excellent job piecing together the facts to give the reader a complete picture of what happened. A must read.
Autumn Kotsiuba
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The best resource I've found to date on the Holodomor.
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An illuminating account of an overlooked human catastrophe. The 14.5 million death toll of the Holodomor is much overlooked and this book really should be on high school reading lists.
Barton Carroll
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing account of a forgotten Genocide. Stalin's Terror famine.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why I did not read this when it was first published I do not know. Its publication date is 1986, before the fall of the USSR. I am left with 2 overwhelming impressions. Firstly, he argues very clearly about the responsibilities for the famine in Chapter 18. In chapter 17, he describes how Stalin successfully 'managed the message': " This lobby of the blind and the blindfold could not actually prevent true accounts by those who were neither dupes nor liars from reaching the West. But they could, ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
What an horrific event, one hardly spoken off because it was purposely kept quiet by the Russian Communist government. 14.5million people killed in a rush of Dekulakisation and Terror Famine, and yet it's not widely known.

Seriously hard to read, not just because the subject matter is upsetting, but because this is a 1980's history - written for students of history or other historians, unlike many more modern histories, written for a more general audience. I initially tried to understand all of i
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty dry but SO GOOD. Extremely well researched and presented. Paints a horrifying picture of the war against Ukrainian nationalist feeling in the 1930s, specifically the Stalin-approved/exacerbated famine in the Ukraine in which over 10 million people died of starvation.
Dec 13, 2014 added it
Robert Conquest is a well established American historian whose work has covered mostly Soviet history. His book, The Harvest of Sorrow, was published in the mid-eighties. It delves into collectivization under Stalin and places a focus on the Ukraine and the famine of 1932-1933. Conquest set forth to register in the public consciousness of the West an understanding of the events surrounding collectivization and the terror-famine, which involved millions of deaths. He explores the party’s struggle ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And this is what democrats and do-nothing republicans want??? Now I know why Politicians pit one group against the other. Man, what a depressing book, I wish that this book was taught in every school in the U.S. Fourteen million deaths, many children, what a crying shame!!! With all of this going on and Roosevelt wanted to recognize Russia! I think Whittaker Chambers said it best in his book, WITNESS. "The Communist vision is a vision of Man without God." After reading this book, I have to agree ...more
Although this history book was written in the 1980's while the Soviet Union was still a country, the lessons it teaches still apply today.

1. While children learn about the evils of slavery, the horrible treatment of Native Americans, and the 6-million Jews killed during the Holocaust by the Nazis in the 1940's, very little is taught about the 14 million Russians, Ukrainian, and other ethnic groups that were starved and killed by the communist government in the USSR in the early 30's.

2. To this
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a well written book with no wasted words, even if not an absolute masterpiece of style.

And though history books are to me generally not 5-star, it seems inescapable that this is indeed a 5-star book because the story is so damned important.

I admit to starting off through the first third in the frame of mind of collecting the material into my mind; to just absorb it as history. Now, at completion, I've come to realize that this is something different.

Statistical figures, Soviet reports, l
Sep 14, 2015 marked it as considering
Todo esto señala hacia la mediación dialéctica de las dimensiones «objetivas» y «subjetivas»: el «subkulak» ya no designa una categoría social «objetiva»; designa el punto en el que el análisis social objetivo se desmorona y la actitud política subjetiva se inscribe directamente a sí misma en el orden «objetivo». En lacanés, «el subkulak » es el punto de subjetivización de la «cadena objetiva»: campesino pobre - campesino medio - kulak. No es una subcategoría (o subdivisión) «objetiva» de la cla ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Anyone who thinks socialism is a good idea needs to read this book. If socialism is so wonderful, why does it have to be forced on people? If it the best system ever, why does it drive a mother to kill and eat her own children? Millions of people were killed outright, deported to labor camps, or simply left to starve to death...because these things would create a perfect world. Didn't happen. That world never appeared. This book was published in 1986, and the author noted that the average citize ...more
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What's the Name o...: Fiction Book about the Ukraine [s] 9 198 May 10, 2012 06:10PM  
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George Robert Ackworth Conquest was a British historian who became a well known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication, in 1968, of his account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s, The Great Terror.