10 books like Comrade Pavlik

By Catriona Kelly,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Comrade Pavlik. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial

By Lynne Viola,

Book cover of Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine

This book is very interesting because it puts the reader inside the workings of the great terror at the local level with the words of the perpetrators themselves. The author uses the records of trials of numerous low level secret police interrogators to show how the regime created the conditions under which the policemen rationalized how they understood their work and made it possible for them to persecute innocent people.

Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial

By Lynne Viola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between the summer of 1937 and November 1938, the Stalinist regime arrested over 1.5 million people for "counterrevolutionary" and "anti-Soviet" activity and either summarily executed or exiled them to the Gulag. While we now know a great deal about the experience of victims of the Great Terror, we know almost nothing about the lower- and middle-level Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD), or secret police, cadres who carried out Stalin's murderous policies.
Unlike the postwar, public trials of Nazi war criminals, NKVD operatives were tried secretly. And what exactly happened in those courtrooms was unknown until now.

In what has been…


Cannibal Island

By Nicolas Werth, Steven Rendall,

Book cover of Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag

I love this book because it “names names.” It is a tragic recounting of the sending of petty criminals combined with a mostly random rounding up of innocent “undesirables” off the street by the police in the USSR in 1934 who are then shipped to exile in Siberia where they were expected to work for the good of the Soviet state. In a matter of months thousands of them died from maltreatment, exposure, and starvation. The book traces the chain of events from inspiration by head of the Gulag Berman and chief of the secret police Iagoda all the way down the chain of command of the Party and police officials to the man responsible for stranding the people on a river island in Siberia. The book gives a glimpse into the nature of the repressive organs and mentality of the Soviet state in a way that humanizes the experience…

Cannibal Island

By Nicolas Werth, Steven Rendall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cannibal Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the spring of 1933, Stalin's police rounded up nearly one hundred thousand people as part of the Soviet regime's "cleansing" of Moscow and Leningrad and deported them to Siberia. Many of the victims were sent to labor camps, but ten thousand of them were dumped in a remote wasteland and left to fend for themselves. Cannibal Island reveals the shocking, grisly truth about their fate. These people were abandoned on the island of Nazino without food or shelter. Left there to starve and to die, they eventually began to eat each other. Nicolas Werth, a French historian of the…


Yezhov

By J. Arch Getty, Oleg V. Naumov,

Book cover of Yezhov: The Rise of Stalin's Iron Fist

This is a great book because it is probably the only truly even-handed treatment of one of the most reviled people in Soviet history, Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD during the great terror. The authors by no means treat him as a sympathetic character, but they convincingly dismiss the many myths about him that have gotten in the way of understanding his relations with Stalin and his true motivations and behavior during the purge. They show that he played a truly significant role in convincing Stalin to let him purge the party and then the whole Soviet population because he believed there was a vast conspiracy to undermine Stalin’s version of Soviet power. Rather than a psychophant who groveled at Stalin’s feet, it is clear that he exercised agency to accomplish a task he believed in. You almost get to know Yezhov as a real human being, which is…

Yezhov

By J. Arch Getty, Oleg V. Naumov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yezhov as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive study of Nikolai Yezhov's rise to become the chief of Stalin's secret police-and the dictator's "iron fist"-during the Great Terror

Head of the secret police from 1937 to 1938, N. I. Yezhov was a foremost Soviet leader during these years, second in power only to Stalin himself. Under Yezhov's orders, millions of arrests, imprisonments, deportations, and executions were carried out. This book, based upon unprecedented access to Communist Party archives and Yezhov's personal archives, looks into the life and career of the enigmatic man who administered Stalin's Great Terror.

J. Arch Getty and Oleg V. Naumov seek to…


The House of Government

By Yuri Slezkine,

Book cover of The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution

This book is incredible, because it tells the story of Stalinist terror through a single house. Moreover, Slezkine creates a world history around this house of victims and perpetrators, which literally begins in the primordial mud and ends on the Day of Judgment. Slezkine takes no prisoners: either you follow him and the apocalyptic horsemen, or you don't, he doesn't care. Like a man possessed, he tells the story of one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century and I found it almost impossible to escape his spell. 

The House of Government

By Yuri Slezkine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The House of Government as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the epic story of an enormous apartment building where Communist true believers lived before their destruction The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman's Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine's gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin's purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives…


It's Only A Joke, Comrade!

By Jonathan Waterlow,

Book cover of It's Only A Joke, Comrade!: Humour, Trust and Everyday Life under Stalin (1928-1941)

Jonathan Waterlow’s book It’s Only a Joke Comrade looks at humor in the Stalinist period, exploring how average citizens used humor to understand the contradictions of their daily reality and to relieve stress. Looking at the way Soviet leaders were mocked Waterlow investigates how people subversively commented on policies that left them hungry and poorly clothed, joking for example that Stalin rid himself of pubic lice (crabs) by announcing he would create a crab collective farm, causing even the lice to flee in terror. Jokes also touched on policy issues such as five-year plans, repression, and even the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, showing how people thought about and discussed these issues. Furthermore, Waterlow looks at the social aspects of telling jokes, which could have dire consequences if told to the wrong person. He studies how jokes helped create and reinforce trust circles, challenging old notions of atomization in the USSR. This witty,…

It's Only A Joke, Comrade!

By Jonathan Waterlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Only A Joke, Comrade! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A stunningly original study of Stalinist society... Essential reading for anyone interested in how human beings navigate a path through times of extraordinary upheaval, privation and danger' – Daniel Beer

In the shadow of the Gulag, Soviet citizens were still cracking jokes. They had to.

Drawing on diaries, interviews, memoirs and hundreds of previously secret documents, It’s Only a Joke, Comrade! uncovers how they joked, coped, and struggled to adapt in Stalin’s brave new world. It asks what it really means to live under a dictatorship: How do people make sense of their lives? How do they talk about it?…


Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

By David Shneer,

Book cover of Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust

Written by one of the key scholars of Jewish history in the USSR, who died untimely in 2020, this book challenges our bias about the USSR and its Cold-War era culture. Shneer tells how the Soviet photographers, many of whom where Jews, documented the Nazi atrocities during World war II and how the Soviet officialdom used their visual narratives to create new cult of the Great Patriotic war and the image of the USSR as a humanistic society.

Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

By David Shneer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through Soviet Jewish Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2011 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category

Most view the relationship of Jews to the Soviet Union through the lens of repression and silence. Focusing on an elite group of two dozen Soviet-Jewish photographers, including Arkady Shaykhet, Alexander Grinberg, Mark Markov-Grinberg, Evgenii Khaldei, Dmitrii Baltermants, and Max Alpert, Through Soviet Jewish Eyes presents a different picture. These artists participated in a social project they believed in and with which they were emotionally and intellectually invested-they were charged by the Stalinist state to tell the visual story of the unprecedented horror we now call the Holocaust.…


The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin,

Book cover of The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

What was life like under the Stalinist Soviet regime? Author Eugene Yelchin vividly and often hilariously recounts his own experiences during those repressive, poverty-stricken, and politically difficult times. Filled with Yelchin’s charming black and white drawings, readers of all ages will applaud Yelchin while learning much about those long-ago times in a country still run by a repressive regime. This timely, poignant book is a great read.

The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Genius Under the Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Honor Winner

With a masterful mix of comic timing and disarming poignancy, Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin offers a memoir of growing up in Cold War Russia.

Drama, family secrets, and a KGB spy in his own kitchen! How will Yevgeny ever fulfill his parents’ dream that he become a national hero when he doesn’t even have his own room? He’s not a star athlete or a legendary ballet dancer. In the tiny apartment he shares with his Baryshnikov-obsessed mother, poetry-loving father, continually outraged grandmother, and safely talented brother, all Yevgeny has is his…


My Life in Stalinist Russia

By Mary M. Leder,

Book cover of My Life in Stalinist Russia: An American Woman Looks Back

Mary Leder was an American teenager in the 1930s when her Jewish socialist immigrant parents, poverty-stricken by the Great Depression, decided to return to Russia to build a Jewish homeland in Birobidzhan. After a brief period of difficulty, they left the Soviet Union and returned to the United States, but Leder was detained due to passport difficulties.

In this moving memoir, she discusses her life in Moscow as a student, a factory worker, an editor, and a young wife and mother. She provides a tragic and compelling account of the repressions of the 1930s, the chaotic evacuation of Moscow in 1941 as the Germans approached the city, the death of her baby girl in evacuation, and the growing anti-Semitism after the war.  At one point she shared a communal apartment with a young, very kind Vietnamese revolutionary who she later learned was Ho Chi Minh. The journey she narrates, from…

My Life in Stalinist Russia

By Mary M. Leder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life in Stalinist Russia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The thoughtful memoirs of a disillusioned daughter of the Russian Revolution. . . . A sometimes astonishing, worm's-eye view of life under totalitarianism, and a valuable contribution to Soviet and Jewish studies." -Kirkus Reviews

"In this engrossing memoir, Leder recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R. . . . [She] has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life. . . . This plainly written account will particularly appeal to readers with a general interest in women's memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics." -Publishers Weekly

In 1931, Mary M. Leder, an American teenager, was attending…


Intimacy and Terror

By Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, Thomas Lahusen

Book cover of Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s

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.

Intimacy and Terror

By Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, Thomas Lahusen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intimacy and Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The private lives of a broad section of Russians who lived during Stalin's purge are revealed in this book. The nine diaries here capture the day-to-day thoughts of these people, and represent a vast selection of opinions, from those oblivious to the terror and those deeply affected by it.


Women, the State and Revolution

By Wendy Z. Goldman,

Book cover of Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917 1936

This deeply researched book explores the massive upheavals that followed the Bolshevik Revolution in the young Soviet Union. By mining a rich body of archival research, Goldman reveals just how radical Soviet policies to emancipate women really were in their historical context. More importantly, she uncovers the heated debates that characterized this early period of Soviet history before the rigidity and paranoia of Stalinism takes over and he reverses many of the early gains.

Women, the State and Revolution

By Wendy Z. Goldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women, the State and Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they believed that under socialism the family would 'wither away.' They envisioned a society in which communal dining halls, daycare centres, and public laundries would replace the unpaid labour of women in the home. Yet by 1936 legislation designed to liberate women from their legal and economic dependence had given way to increasingly conservative solutions aimed at strengthening traditional family ties and women's reproductive role. This book explains the reversal, focusing on how women, peasants, and orphans responded to Bolshevik attempts to remake the family, and how their opinions and experiences in…


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