New Books Network

David Shearer, “Policing Stalin’s Socialism: Repression and Social Order in the Soviet Union, 1924-1953” (Yale UP, 2010)
The question as to why the leaders of the Soviet Union murdered hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens during the Great Purges is one of the most important of modern history, primarily because it shapes what we are likely to think about communism. There are two schools of thought. On... Read More
Deborah Kaple, “Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir” (Oxford UP, 2010)
Here’s something remarkable: at some point in the future, something you believe to be just fine will be utterly disdained by the greater part of humanity. For instance, it is at least imaginable that one day everyone will believe that zoos were [NB] profoundly immoral. The future will condemn us... Read More
Abbott Gleason, “A Liberal Education” (TidePool Press, 2010)
I fear that most people think that “history” is “the past” and that the one and the other live in books. But it just ain’t so. History is a story we tell about the past, or rather some small portion of it. The past itself is gone and cannot, outside... Read More
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, “Russian Orientalism” (Yale UP, 2010)
There’s a saying, sometimes attributed to Napoleon, “Scratch a Russian and you find a Tatar.” I’ve scratched a Russian (I won’t say anything more about that) and I can tell you that the saying is false: all I found was more Russian. It’s true, however, that Russians have always known... Read More
Norman Naimark, “Stalin’s Genocides” (Princeton UP, 2010)
Absolutely no one doubts that Stalin murdered millions of people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. His ruthless campaign of “dekulakization,” his pitiless deportation of “unreliable” ethnic groups, his senseless starvation of Ukrainian peasants, his cruel attempt to “cleanse” the Communist Party of supposed “enemies of the people”–all of these... Read More
John Steinberg, “All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2010)
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was the most important political event of the twentieth century (no Revolution; no Nazis; no Nazis, no World War II; no World War II, no Cold War). It’s little wonder, then, that historians have expended oceans of effort and ink trying to explain why and... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew” (Yale UP, 2009)
I’ve got a name for you: Robert Zimmerman (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham). You’ve heard of him. He was a Jewish kid from Hibbing, Minnesota. But he didn’t (as the stereotype would suggest) become a doctor, lawyer, professor or businessman. Nope, the professions were not for him. He loved the... Read More