Dariusz Tołczyk, "Blissful Blindness: Soviet Crimes under Western Eyes" (Indiana UP, 2023)


The most heinous Soviet crimes - the Red Terror, brutal collectivization, the Great Famine, the Gulag, Stalin's Great Terror, mass deportations, and other atrocities - were treated in the West as a controversial topic. With the Cold War dichotomy of Western democracy versus Soviet communism deeply imprinted in our minds, we are not always aware that these crimes were very often questioned, dismissed, denied, sometimes rationalized, and even outright glorified in the Western world. Facing a choice of whom to believe -the survivors or Soviet propaganda- many Western opinion leaders chose in favor of Soviet propaganda. Even those who did not believe it behaved sometimes as if they did.

Blissful Blindness: Soviet Crimes under Western Eyes (Indiana UP, 2023) explores Western reactions (and lack thereof) to Soviet crimes from the Bolshevik revolution to the collapse of Soviet communism in order to understand ideological, political, economic, cultural, personal, and other motivations behind this puzzling phenomenon of willful ignorance. But the significance of Dariusz Tolczyk's book reaches beyond its direct historical focus. Written for audiences not limited to scholars and specialists, this book not only opens one's eyes to rarely examined aspects of the twentieth century but also helps one see how astonishingly relevant this topic is in our contemporary world.

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Charles Coutinho

Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.

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