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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.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
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.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful