Bloodlands

  • by Timothy Snyder
  • Narrated by Ralph Cosham
  • 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Americans think of World War II as “The Good War”, a moment when the forces of good resoundingly triumphed over evil. Yet the war was not decided by D-day. It was decided in the East, by the Red Army and Joseph Stalin.
While conventional wisdom locates the horrors of World War II in the six million Jews killed in German concentration camps, the reality is even grimmer. In 13 years, the Nazi and Soviet regimes killed 13 million people in the lands between Germany and Russia. The majority of these deaths occurred in Eastern Europe, not Germany.
In the groundbreaking long-view style of Tony Judt and Niall Ferguson, Tim Snyder, one of America’s foremost historians of Eastern Europe, has written a new history of Europe that focuses on the battleground of Eastern Europe, which suffered the worst crimes of Hitler and Stalin. Based upon scholarly literature and primary sources in all of the relevant languages, Bloodlands pays special attention to the sources left by those who were killed: the letters home, the notes flung from trains, the diaries found on corpses.
This is a new kind of European history, one more concerned with suffering than with intention, one that recognizes how stories of progress or victory have excluded the most salient human experience, and one focused on the extreme predicament of the tens of millions of Europeans who found themselves between Hitler and Stalin.
The scale of destruction in the lands between Germany and Russia has eluded historians and baffles the cynicism of our new century, but for these very reasons, Bloodlands offers the way forward to a sensible reconstruction of European history. Ultimately, in Snyder’s matchless telling, the German and Soviet regimes appear not so much as totalitarian twins, but as rivals whose ruthless pursuit of similar goals doomed millions of innocents.

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What the Critics Say

"A chillingly systematic study of the mass murder mutually perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany…. A significant work of staggering figures and scholarship." (Kirkus)
“This is a book which will force its readers to rethink history.” (Norman Davies)
“History of a high order, Bloodlands may also point us towards lessons for our own time.” (Timothy Garton Ash)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One of the best and scariest books I've ever read

Let's start with the end: you should buy this book. It will surprise you, shock you, scare you, enlighten you, inform you and more than anything else, it will make you think. As promised by the description (and from my own time in high school history classes) most Westerners think of WWII from a western perspective, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany invades France, the landing at Normandy, the march towards Berlin. But we don't think of the drama in Eastern Europe, the areas between Berlin and Moscow. That was where the real atrocities happened between 1930 and 1945. This book examines these areas, known to our author as the Bloodlands.

With wonderful depth, humanity and detail, the author describes what happens throughout Eastern Europe as it is annexed by Stalin, invaded by Russia and Germany, traded back and forth in the war's Eastern front and continually starved, persecuted and purged of "unnecessary eaters". This is the story of how the Holocaust was worse than most westerners even know, of how dictators decided certain people didn't need to live and how 14 million private citizens were brutally murdered. It has changed modern history for me and opened my eyes to events I scarcely understood before. Moreover, it ends with a discussion of the Stalin and Nazi regimes and how modern man could fall into such psychological traps again. This is a spectacular book; I can't recommend it enough.
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- Joe

Stuck between mad men

first off, the narrator for this audiobook is great and his somber tone fits the material well. Also, no prerequisite knowledge of WWII is necessary for reading this one. It is pretty self-contained.

The writing itself can be at times a little bland, especially when statistics counting the number of people who died are read off. However, the author artfully intersperses within these larger numbers personal stories about actual people who died, their dreams and hopes, which really help the listener get a grip on the tragedy that occurred in the "bloodlands". Even still, the scale of the killing which took place in this region is difficult to comprehend and often forced me to reflect on the value of humans and the individual meanings they each may have for their lives.

This book is definitely a downer, but is a story very much worth hearing.



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- Joseph

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-18-2010
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.