The Best Books On Stalin’s Great Terror

By Lynne Viola

The Books I Picked & Why

Hope Against Hope: A Memoir

By Nadezhda Mandelstam, Max Hayward

Hope Against Hope: A Memoir

Why this book?

Written by the wife of Russia’s great poet, Osip Mandelstam, this book is one of the most important—and brilliant--memoirs of the Stalin years. Perhaps more than any other book, it captures the atmosphere of fear and terror that surrounded members of the creative intelligentsia under Stalin.


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Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s

By Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, Thomas Lahusen

Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s

Why this book?

This is a collection of diaries written by a wide range of individuals during the Stalin era. The diaries address the terror in a variety of surprising ways, demonstrating the diversity of Soviet citizens in this time.


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The Great Fear: Stalin's Terror of the 1930s

By James Harris

The Great Fear: Stalin's Terror of the 1930s

Why this book?

Written by one of the UK’s best historians of the Soviet Union, this book explores how fears of conspiracy and foreign invasion influenced Stalin and the Great Terror. The introduction contains a valuable survey and critique of major historical interpretations of the terror.


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Policing Stalin's Socialism: Repression and Social Order in the Soviet Union, 1924-1953

By David R. Shearer

Policing Stalin's Socialism: Repression and Social Order in the Soviet Union, 1924-1953

Why this book?

This monograph changed the way historians understand the Great Terror. Shearer focuses on state fears not of foreign invasion, but of domestic social disorder. Based on voluminous archival research, he explores the structural prerequisites to the “mass operations” of the Great Terror by looking at the social purging campaigns of the mid-1930s and the practices of civil and political policing.


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The Gulag Archipelago

By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Why this book?

This is the classic account of the Great Terror and the Gulag. Solzhenitsyn roots Stalinist repression firmly in the Russian Revolution, blaming Marxist ideology for the camps. The literary value of this work is incontestable.


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