am 9. Mai 2000
Life in Stalin's Russia must have been extremely hard for all concerned, yet Sheila Fitzpatrick has managed to create a fascinating and readable book. There is a great deal of detail based on meticulous research, but at the same time there is an awareness of ordinary people, and some humour: if you needed to invent a new life for yourself, it was best to claim that you had been born in Kiev, since their records were destroyed in the Civil War. The strongest message comes at the end, that with everything "homo sovieticus" had to endure, he/she was a survivor. As a teacher of 20th century history I can totally recommend this book to anyone, student or general reader, who wants to understand this period and these remarkable people.
am 15. Mai 2000
Fitzpatrick has produced an intriguing book about the miseries of everyday life in Stalin's Russia during the 1930s, when people had to struggle with a world which had been turned upside down by both the revolution and the turmoil of the collectivisation and industrialisation policies of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Using a wealth of sources, she shows with particular clarity the great incompetence of the bureaucracy, where everyone seemed more interested in fighting for influence than in serving the people. She also puts the focus on crime, hooliganism and how the lot of women was slowly improved through the chance to get a decent education. Fitzpatrick also does not disappoint with the crushing effect of the nightmare years of 1936-1938, when millions were executed or imprisoned during the Great Purge. A vital read for all those fascinated by the topic of Stalinism
am 28. Juni 1999
If you want to learn about Joseph Stalin, try something else. Surprisingly, Stalin is reduced to a bit player in this book; the real players here are the bureaucrats staking out their territory and enforcing their small visions of the ideal Soviet society, and ordinary citizens denouncing other citizens for the smallest of gains. Changes resulting from the occasional fiat from on high - although almost never from Stalin himself, who protected his cult of personality by speaking only in the most general of terms - are examined, but the real meat is the lasting damage done by peers and government lackies.