The Living And The Dead: The Rise And Fall Of The Cult Of World War Ii In Russia

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Basic Books, Aug 25, 1994 - History - 242 pages
World War II killed some thirty million Soviet citizens and transformed the lives of survivors and their descendants. It was the defining ordeal that shaped the history of the Soviet behemoth in the past half-century. The Living and the Dead weaves together the tangled threads of the war's memory in the Soviet Union and Russia. This moving account of a suffering people's struggle with brutal history shows how state and party authorities stage-managed a national trauma into a heroic exploit that glorified the Communist partywhile systematically concealing the disastrous mistakes and criminal cruelties committed by the Stalinist tyranny. Nina Tumarkin explores the nature and fate of the myth, beginning in 1941, when Germany launched its catastrophic "Operation Barbarossa". She shows how Stalin first memorialized the war as heroic, triumphal, even messianic, but then demoted the myth because it had produced too many popular heroes and stories of personal initiative. The cult reached its apogee under Brezhnev. The second half of the book relates the poignant story of the cult's demise from 1990 onward, serving as a prism to refract the spectrum of popular responses to the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. To research the book, Tumarkin strolled with veterans in Gorky Park on Victory days, studied with Russian Army officers, and, with her own hands, unearthed the bones of some of the estimated two to three million Soviet soldiers killed in World War II but never properly buried. The author deftly interweaves into her narrative candid autobiographical sketches focusing on her own encounters with death as well as the remembrances of her Russian emigre family. A new model forbringing history to life through personal engagement and interaction, the book also helps us understand the roots of contemporary Russians' preoccupation with their nation's greatness. The Living and the Dead shows us where the Russian colossus has been - and where it may be headed.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - languagehat - LibraryThing

This book was a severe disappointment. I was expecting an analysis of (to quote the subtitle) "The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia"; there's some of that, but most of the book ... Read full review

THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia

User Review  - Kirkus

It would seem hard to spoil a book about the impact of the German invasion on the Soviet Union in WW II, but Tumarkin nearly pulls it off. Tumarkin (History/Wellesley, Lenin Lives!, 1983) links a ... Read full review


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Valley of Death
The Last Hurrah

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