The Best Books On Russia And USSR In The 20th Century

By Michael Khodarkovsky

The Books I Picked & Why

East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

By Philippe Sands

East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Why this book?

Among many books on the Holocaust, this one stands out. The story focuses on three people, the author’s grandfather and two lawyers who all hailed from the same city, Lviv (Lemberg). The lawyers were Raphael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht, who respectively introduced the concepts of genocide and crime against humanity. All three lives are inextricably connected to the fate of Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The author is a well-known professor of international law who writes with extraordinary precision and elegance. The book is remarkably well researched, and it is often through small and little-known episodes that one fully understands the extent of the Nazi evil and the resilience of the human spirit.


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Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

By Antony Beevor

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

Why this book?

Stalingrad was the most famous and perhaps the crucial battle during World War II, and no one described it better than Antony Beevor. Beevor’s narrative tells us about the experiences of both the Soviet and German soldiers facing each other. It also describes the life of civilians in Stalingrad and the terrible price at which the Soviets achieved victory.


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Archangel: A Novel

By Robert Harris

Archangel: A Novel

Why this book?

A brilliant novel set in 1990s Russia. The plot involves Stalin and one of his deep secrets. The author seamlessly moves the story from the 1930s to 1990s and back. One rarely sees a historical novel so accurate in capturing the historical events and so utterly captivating. It is on par with some of the best thrillers.


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Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy

By Douglas Smith

Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy

Why this book?

Beautifully written, the book follows the lives of Russia’s two great aristocratic families in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. Their fate was typical of the entire Russian aristocracy. It is a story of the Bolsheviks' cruelty and a painful survival of their many victims.


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Moscow, 1937

By Karl Schlogel

Moscow, 1937

Why this book?

The German historian, Karl Schlögel painstakingly reconstructs one year in Stalin's terror campaign, known as the Great Purges. 1,5 million people were arrested and executed in this year alone. Through the most meticulous research, Schlögel tells us how this happened and why.


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