10 books like Intimacy and Terror

By Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya, Thomas Lahusen

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

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Hope Against Hope

By Nadezhda Mandelstam, Max Hayward,

Book cover of Hope Against Hope: A Memoir

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.

Hope Against Hope

By Nadezhda Mandelstam, Max Hayward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Suddently, at about one o'clock in the morning, there was a sharp, unbearably explicit knock on the door. 'They've come for Osip', I said'.

In 1933 the poet Osip Mandelstam- friend to Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova- wrote a spirited satire denouncing Josef Stalin. It proved to be a sixteen-line death sentence. For his one act of defiance he was arrested by the Cheka, the secret police, interrogated, exiled and eventually re-arrested. He died en route to one of Stalin's labour camps.

His wife, Nadezhda (1899-1980) was with him on both occasions when he was arrested, and she loyally accompanied…


The Great Fear

By James Harris,

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

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.

The Great Fear

By James Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between the winter of 1936 and the autumn of 1938, approximately three quarters of a million Soviet citizens were subject to summary execution. More than a million others were sentenced to lengthy terms in labour camps. Commonly known as 'Stalin's Great Terror', it is also among the most misunderstood moments in the history of the twentieth century. The Terror gutted the ranks of factory directors and engineers after three years in which all major plan targets were
met. It raged through the armed forces on the eve of the Nazi invasion. The wholesale slaughter of party and state officials was…


Policing Stalin's Socialism

By David R. Shearer,

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

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.

Policing Stalin's Socialism

By David R. Shearer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Policing Stalin's Socialism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Policing Stalin's Socialism is one of the first books to emphasize the importance of social order repression by Stalin's Soviet regime in contrast to the traditional emphasis of historians on political repression. Based on extensive examination of new archival materials, David Shearer finds that most repression during the Stalinist dictatorship of the 1930s was against marginal social groups such as petty criminals, deviant youth, sectarians, and the unemployed and unproductive.

It was because Soviet leaders regarded social disorder as more of a danger to the state than political opposition that they instituted a new form of class war to defend…


The Gulag Archipelago

By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn,

Book cover of The Gulag Archipelago

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.

The Gulag Archipelago

By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The official, one-volume edition, authorized by Solzhenitsyn

“BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE 20TH CENTURY” —Time

The Nobel Prize winner’s towering masterpiece of world literature, the searing record of four decades of terror and oppression, in one abridged volume (authorized by the author). Features a new foreword by Anne Applebaum.

“It is impossible to name a book that had a greater effect on the political and moral consciousness of the late twentieth century.” —David Remnick, The New Yorker

Drawing on his own experiences before, during and after his eleven years of incarceration and exile, on evidence provided by more than 200…


The Akhmatova Journals

By Sylva Rubashova, Lydia Chukovskaya, Milena Michalski

Book cover of The Akhmatova Journals: Volume 1, 1938-1941

Akhmatova was one of the most important poets in the city’s history, and here she is brought to life by an exceptionally talented diarist: elusive, but at times extremely frank, hesitant, vulnerable, while at the same time demanding. It is a riveting portrait. Chukovskaya also draws a fraught picture of Leningrad during the Stalinist Great Terror, as evoked in Akhmatova’s famous cycle of memorial poems, Requiem. Look out also for Chukovskaya’s novel about the Terror, Sofia Petrovna.

The Akhmatova Journals

By Sylva Rubashova, Lydia Chukovskaya, Milena Michalski

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Even in her own day Anna Akhmatova was ranked as one of the great Russian poets of the century. Yet she suffered scathing attacks from the Soviet establishment, was famously denounced as ""half-nun, half-whore"", and was finally expelled from the Writers' Union. Lydia Chukovskaya, an admirer who became the poet's close friend, kept intimate diaries that reveal the day-to-day life of a passionate artist forced to endure sorrow and oppression, yet still able to create poetry and friendship. This volume contains the journals kept between the years 1938 and 1941.


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 Great Terror

By Robert Conquest,

Book cover of The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties

No book exposed the horrors of Josef Stalin’s purges more graphically and with greater power than Robert Conquest’s epic, The Great Terror. The book chronicled how a paranoid Stalin, convinced his power was threatened by his rival Leon Trotsky and his allies, unleashed a wave of terror by his country’s NKVD—a forerunner of the KGB--  that decimated the Soviet leadership and its military with millions of Russians executed or marched to Siberian prison camps. While Stalin’s henchmen staged mock “trials” in Moscow, marked by phony confessions, extracted by torture, liberal apologists in the West sought to justify Stalin’s lunatic crackdown. I read this book in college and it has stayed with me for years-- providing an eye-opening lesson in the willingness of those of all political stripes to turn a blind eye to the evils of totalitarianism.

The Great Terror

By Robert Conquest,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Conquest's The Great Terror is the book that revealed the horrors of Stalin's regime to the West. This definitive fiftieth anniversary edition features a new foreword by Anne Applebaum.

One of the most important books ever written about the Soviet Union, The Great Terror revealed to the West for the first time the true extent and nature Stalin's purges in the 1930s, in which around a million people were tortured and executed or sent to labour camps on political grounds. Its publication caused a widespread reassessment of Communism itself.

This definitive fiftieth anniversary edition gathers together the wealth of…


Stalin's Door

By John St. Clair,

Book cover of Stalin's Door

A brilliant evocation of the paranoia of the Stalin regime and the extraordinary extent of its surveillance of members of the Communist elite. We follow the story of a young girl as her family is destroyed and she is sent to the GULAG. Although it delves deep into the horrors of Stalinist persecution, this book is also an uplifting tale of love, courage, and survival.

Stalin's Door

By John St. Clair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalin's Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the dangerous time of Russia’s Great Terror, a knock on the door late at night could mean only one thing!

Moscow, 1937. As mortal fear engulfs the capital city, a singular man cements his lethal grip of absolute power over an entire nation. Accusations, mass arrests, executions, and deportations become de rigueur. Stalin’s cult of personality is so fearsome, that even a simple question could get you killed—or worse. Stalin’s dreaded secret police, the NKVD, would pit neighbor against neighbor in the insatiable hunt for the spies and saboteurs which threaten the supreme leader’s tyranny. The crisis will irrecoverably…


Moscow, 1937

By Karl Schlogel,

Book cover of Moscow, 1937

Karl Schlögel’s masterpiece, Moscow,1937, is a gripping study of Moscow at the peak of the Stalinist Great Terror. With short chapters and a multitude of illustrations, the book leads the reader on a panoptic tour of every aspect of the city’s life in this year of mass arrests and waves of executions. Step by step, Schlögel builds a convincing case that as the Communist regime struggled to get a grip on the chaos unleashed by the regime’s own collectivization and industrialization drives, its reflexive response was to resort to political violence. The murderous frenzy that resulted changed the society beyond recognition.

Moscow, 1937

By Karl Schlogel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Moscow, 1937 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Moscow, 1937: the soviet metropolis at the zenith of Stalin s dictatorship. A society utterly wrecked by a hurricane of violence. In this compelling book, the renowned historian Karl Schlogel reconstructs with meticulous care the process through which, month by month, the terrorism of a state-of-emergency regime spiraled into the Great Terror during which 1 1/2 million human beings lost their lives within a single year. He revisits the sites of show trials and executions and, by also consulting numerous sources from the time, he provides a masterful panorama of these key events in Russian history. He shows how, in…


Requiem and Poem Without a Hero

By Anna Akhmatova,

Book cover of Requiem and Poem Without a Hero

One of the most significant Russian poets of the 20th century, Anna was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in 1965. Her distinctive work ranging from short lyric poems to intricately structured pieces set her apart from her contemporaries. Her work deals heavily with the struggles of living and writing under the Stalinist era.

In this elegy, written over three decades, between 1935 and 1961, Anna relates details of her personal struggles together with the reflection of other voices during the "Great Purge". In an emotional call to help, she offers empathy to others faced with the same, dire predicament. Feel the gravity of suffering, pain, and mourning, ultimately teaching you one of the most important lessons in healing, which is acceptance and letting go. 

Requiem and Poem Without a Hero

By Anna Akhmatova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Requiem and Poem Without a Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With this edition Swallow Press presents two of Anna Akhmatova’s best-known works that represent the poet at full maturity, and that most trenchantly process the trauma she and others experienced living under Stalin’s regime.

Akhmatova began the three-decade process of writing “Requiem” in 1935 after the arrests of her son, Lev Gumilev, and her third husband. The autobiographical fifteen-poem cycle primarily chronicles a mother’s wait—lining up outside Leningrad Prison every day for seventeen months—for news of her son’s fate. But from this limbo, Akhmatova expresses and elevates the collective grief for all the thousands vanished under the regime, and for…


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