All About Books discussion

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956
This topic is about Iron Curtain
38 views
Non-Fiction > Group Read (February/March)- Iron Curtain : The Crushing of Eastern Europe by Anne Applebaum

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Rowena (new)

Rowena | 364 comments Mod
Join us as we discuss our February/March non-fiction group read Iron Curtain : The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956


Gill | 5720 comments I read this a few months ago. It was extremely interesting, and very well researched.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Who is joining this one? I've just purchased a copy on my kindle. I think I will start in March.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
Glad to see this won. Will definitely be reading this.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11973 comments Mod
I see that it is available on kindle which is even better, I will probably read it during this week, once I have finished the books on my 'currently reading' shelf.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Look forward to hearing your thoughts, Alannah. It was quite cheap on kindle for a non-fiction book I thought


message 7: by Buzz (new)

Buzz Selous (buzzselous) Hello. Looking forward to some discussion.
I read this book about a year ago. I agree with Gill about its being well researched. Unfortunately, my other thought is that the entire effort is a footnote in search of a narrative. Max Frankel had a very perceptive review in the New York Times when the book first appeared.
But, my opinion, based on the review on Barnes and Noble, is in the minority.
I hope you like it.


message 8: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Brod and others,I too have read that the book lacks cohesiveness; lots and lots of details but few conclusions drawn. Do others agree or not?

I am considering the book and that is why I have this question.

I also have read that the book is primarily dealing with Germany and Poland, and less about the other countries of the Eastern Block.

I would really appreciate to hear the positive and negative attributes of the book Should I read it?

Another book that I am considering is Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. It may be of interest to others too so I mention it here.


Gill | 5720 comments Chrissie, it is primarily about Germany,Hungary and Poland. All of which interested me. It is primarily a narrative based on many resources including interviews. I was a bit concerned as to whether the author had interviewed a balanced selection of people or not, by which you can deduce that the book didn't very much back up my prejudices!


message 10: by Buzz (new)

Buzz Selous (buzzselous) Chrissie, you are right that the book is almost exclusively about Poland, Hungary, and Germany. This is explicitly stated and justified by the author. Whether the conditions of these three countries are symptomatic of the entire Soviet sphere is extremely debatable. Personally, I wish that the imposition of Soviet power into areas that had been outside of the pre-War Soviet Union but was incorporated into the USSR had been examined (Western Ukraine, one of the Baltic states, Bukovina and Moldavia, etc.). Nonetheless, I am not criticizing the author for her decision to focus on the countries that she did look at.

Yes, I agree that the facts, details are overwhelming, and that someone should have written this book. However, having said that, this is NOT a book for a mass audience. There is no cohesive overall narrative that joins the pieces together. It is as if a doctor explains a body by describing the various parts, but never explaining the organism as a whole. As I read the book, I kept hoping for an overarching narrative that would connect all the different parts, but this narrative never appeared. And that is a shame.

I said earlier that the book is a series of footnotes that lack a narrative. Max Frankel in the NY Times says this: "While her documentation of the Soviet takeover is impressive, at this late date fewer facts and more analysis would have been welcome." True.

Also, while she examines three individual countries, I never got the sense that the differences between the countries got the attention that was deserved. For example, Poland never collectivized agriculture, at least not to the extent that the other Soviet satellite states did, nor was the church suppressed. These are important facts that I felt Applebaum glossed over.

I will say more in a later post.


message 11: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Thank you both, Gill and Brod. My suspicions have been confirmed. I definitely need/want an overarching analysis that this book seems to lack.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I've started the book. I enjoyed the introduction which explained some political philosophy which I found really interesting.

I'm only about 30 pages in though so can't fully comment yet.


message 13: by Buzz (new)

Buzz Selous (buzzselous) Chrissie, try the "History of the Soviet Union: 1917-1991" by Geoffrey Hosking. It is not perfect (a real history of the soviet experience would have to begin with the Stolypin reforms of 1905) but it is very very good. The first two chapters along with the final chapter of Richard Overy's "Russia's War" is a great introduction to the Soviet Union up to the demise of Stalin.


message 14: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Thanks for the recommendations, Brod. I!ll go check out the books you name.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm... I seem to have given this one. I enjoyed the first section but since then I have no real interest in picking the book up. I'm finding it a bit dry surprisingly and I agree that it isn't very cohesive. I think I will try pick it up again in a few days but if I still don't like it, I won't force myself to carry on


message 16: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I don't see much enthusiasm for this book. I decided to pick up Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire instead and will read it soon. The focus is a bit different though.


back to top