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Thread: Orlando Figes

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    Orlando Figes

    The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia

    Phenomenal!!

    Just finished it a few days ago. For anyone interested in this period of Soviet Russia's history (from about 1917 through the 50s) I would highly recommend it. Figes interviewed hundreds of people, and dove deep into archives to bring together this revealing snapshot of the times. Included are numerous family photographs, and excerpts from the diaries of ordinary people. The Whisperers takes you from the death of Lenin up to Stalin's stroke, and into the period of the Kruschev thaw. A good portion is dedicated to the internal struggle of Konstantin Simonov (Stalin's favorite author.) Very informative, thought provoking, and emotional all at once. ^_^ Discussion would be great if anyone else has read it.
    *** войне!

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    Never've heard of this book before, but I've found the accompaning site with photos, family histories, sound files, etc.:
    http://www.orlandofiges.com

    I'm impressed by the volume of work Mr.Figes has done, loved old photos... though I doubt any Russian whould find in this book anything particularly new.

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    ^_^, probably not as far as the factual information goes (i.e. dates, things accomplished.) But perhaps they'd enjoy it for the dynamic characters, and their stories. As did I. I agree it's best suited for a non-native, though. Who wants to read about a subject they've covered a thousand times before. ^_^
    *** войне!

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    I am about three-quarters of the way through and agree that it is a very impressive book. I would be interested to know how any citizens of the former Soviet Union find it. I suspect that people of any nation think they have a good idea of their county's modern history but can be informed and surprised by the objective and detailed examination of the recent past by a foreigner who has done such good research.
    Perhaps Gulag by Anne Appelbaum makes a good companion to this book.
    I also enjoyed "A Writer at War -Vasillii Grossman with the Red Army" - and the novel "Life and Fate" by Grossman, who was a contemporary of Simonov.
    (My interest is more focussed on the Great Patriotic War period.)
    I think it is an interesting question to consider whether the Victory of the Soviet Union was in spite of or because of the nature of its society in those times...
    BTW The Whisperers is in the running for a non-fiction literary prize and deservedly so IMHO.

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    Re: Orlando Figes

    I haven't actually heard of "The Whisperers..." - but perhaps I can add it to my potential reading list during the summer holidays, if you think it truly warrants a read.

    As for me, I haven't read a great deal of Figes' works, but I managed to get half-way through "A People's Tragedy" - a book recommended to my history class for one of my Russian history modules. It's an excellent book, very comprehensive - despite the fact I couldn't really find the time to finish it. However, at some point, I intend to do precisely that. It helped me a great deal during the course, as it enabled me to be somewhat ahead throughout. Above all, it's simply a fascinating read, yet in places, a rather saddening read. Certainly worth having a look at.

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    Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave T
    I think it is an interesting question to consider whether the Victory of the Soviet Union was in spite of or because of the nature of its society in those times...
    I second that. Equally great arguments could be formulated from both sides of the aisle. Still, i'm compelled to believe in spite of it all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Der Doktor
    As for me, I haven't read a great deal of Figes' works, but I managed to get half-way through "A People's Tragedy" - a book recommended to my history class for one of my Russian history modules.
    Thanks for the lead.
    *** войне!

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