100 books like Policing Stalin's Socialism

By David R. Shearer,

Here are 100 books that Policing Stalin's Socialism fans have personally recommended if you like Policing Stalin's Socialism. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Hope Against Hope: A Memoir

Lynne Viola Author Of Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine

From my list on Stalin’s Great Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lynne Viola is a University Professor of Russian history at the University of Toronto. Educated at Barnard and Princeton, she has carried out research in Russian and Ukrainian archives for over 30 years. Among her books, are two dealing with Stalinist repression: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine and The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. Both are based on work in previously classified archives, including the archives of the political police.

Lynne's book list on Stalin’s Great Terror

Lynne Viola Why did Lynne love 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.

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…


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

Lynne Viola Author Of Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine

From my list on Stalin’s Great Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lynne Viola is a University Professor of Russian history at the University of Toronto. Educated at Barnard and Princeton, she has carried out research in Russian and Ukrainian archives for over 30 years. Among her books, are two dealing with Stalinist repression: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine and The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. Both are based on work in previously classified archives, including the archives of the political police.

Lynne's book list on Stalin’s Great Terror

Lynne Viola Why did Lynne love 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.

By Natalia Korenevskaya, Thomas Lahusen, Veronique Garros

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.


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

Lynne Viola Author Of Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine

From my list on Stalin’s Great Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lynne Viola is a University Professor of Russian history at the University of Toronto. Educated at Barnard and Princeton, she has carried out research in Russian and Ukrainian archives for over 30 years. Among her books, are two dealing with Stalinist repression: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine and The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. Both are based on work in previously classified archives, including the archives of the political police.

Lynne's book list on Stalin’s Great Terror

Lynne Viola Why did Lynne love 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.

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…


Book cover of The Gulag Archipelago

Lynne Viola Author Of Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine

From my list on Stalin’s Great Terror.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lynne Viola is a University Professor of Russian history at the University of Toronto. Educated at Barnard and Princeton, she has carried out research in Russian and Ukrainian archives for over 30 years. Among her books, are two dealing with Stalinist repression: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine and The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. Both are based on work in previously classified archives, including the archives of the political police.

Lynne's book list on Stalin’s Great Terror

Lynne Viola Why did Lynne love 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.

By Aleksandr 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…


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

Roger R. Reese Author Of The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917

From my list on Stalinism from every angle.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Reese has studied, researched, and or taught Soviet history since 1984. He has been on the faculty of Texas A&M University since 1990. He has published five books and numerous articles and book chapters on the military history of Russia and the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. book prize for his most recent book, The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917.

Roger's book list on Stalinism from every angle

Roger R. Reese Why did Roger love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of In the First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition

Jonathan R. Rose Author Of After the Flames: A Burn Victim's Battle With Celebrity

From my list on showing uncomfortable truths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always strived to speak out when surrounded by silence, whether in person through my own voice, or through the books I have written and had published. Not because I am heroic or noble, but because I am angered by suppressed truth, and I believe reality should be shown as it is, not as people believe it should be. That is why the books I chose are so important to me, because they fearlessly exposed the truths the respective authors were determined to show, risks be damned. I hope these books inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Jonathan's book list on showing uncomfortable truths

Jonathan R. Rose Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book showed me in a way I’d never seen before what life was like for an imprisoned bureaucrat in Stalin-era Russia. The author proved to me that through undeniable detail and unflinching sincerity, you can show an unsettling reality that powerful authorities have worked tirelessly to conceal.

Found within the book’s pages are poignant anecdotes, lessons, and reflective moments that made me question the very concepts of what a person is capable of doing and enduring under extreme circumstances. I could not get the chapter “The Buddha’s Smile” out of my head, and I don’t think I ever will.

By Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn, Harry Willets (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the First Circle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The thrilling Cold War masterwork by the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Gulag Archipelago, published in full for the first time.

"Solzhenitsyn's best novel. . . . A great and important book, whose qualities are finally fully available to English-speaking readers.” —Washington Post

Moscow, Christmas Eve, 1949.The Soviet secret police intercept a call made to the American embassy by a Russian diplomat who promises to deliver secrets about the nascent Soviet Atomic Bomb program. On that same day, a brilliant mathematician is locked away inside a Moscow prison that houses the country's brightest minds. He and his fellow prisoners are…


Book cover of Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag

Roger R. Reese Author Of The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917

From my list on Stalinism from every angle.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roger Reese has studied, researched, and or taught Soviet history since 1984. He has been on the faculty of Texas A&M University since 1990. He has published five books and numerous articles and book chapters on the military history of Russia and the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. book prize for his most recent book, The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917.

Roger's book list on Stalinism from every angle

Roger R. Reese Why did Roger love this book?

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…

By Nicolas Werth, Steven Rendall, 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…


Book cover of The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

Jasper Becker Author Of Made in China: Wuhan, Covid and the Quest for Biotech Supremacy

From my list on understanding the history of communism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jasper Becker is a foreign correspondent who spent decades reporting on China and the Far East. His the author of numerous books including Hungry Ghosts – Mao’s Secret Famine, Rogue Regime – Kim Jong Il and the looming threat of North Korea, City of Heavenly Tranquillity, and most recently Made in China – Wuhan, COVID and the Quest for Biotech Supremacy.

Jasper's book list on understanding the history of communism

Jasper Becker Why did Jasper love this book?

This was the first real effort to bring together a picture of the whole story of the global Communist movement and the many famines it created. It covers the whole-scale of the misery in regimes in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Russia, India, China, and southeast Asia. It’s a lot of ground to cover but the narrative does not flag. Although the opening of the archives had produced more information, this is still a very impressive book however sobering it might be.

By Stéphane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné , Andrzej Paczkowski , Karel Bartosek , Jean-Louis Margolin

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.

"Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit," Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience-in the China of "the Great Helmsman," Kim Il Sung's Korea, Vietnam under "Uncle Ho" and Cuba under…


Book cover of Polar Star

Raf Beuy Author Of Iron Curtain 1987

From my list on stories set in the '80s (of the 20th century).

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of the 80s. Growing up in West Berlin, when Allied soldiers patrolled the streets, had a huge impact on my view of the world. There was this underlying feeling of uneasiness. I was well aware that Russian soldiers with tanks and nuclear weapons were waiting on the other side of the wall. Fascinating, terrifying times indeed. To convey this atmosphere to my readers is my foremost drive to write stories set within the framework of the cold war. Cheers and nastrovje!

Raf's book list on stories set in the '80s (of the 20th century)

Raf Beuy Why did Raf love this book?

Glasnost. Honestly, I was expecting to pick Gorky Park for this list. The first installment of the Arkady Renko series made a significant impression on me as a teenager, as I was completely immersed in the gritty life in the Soviet Union. But then I found Polar Star in my library and remembered what I loved about this story. It is as tightly woven as the weirs of the net spun by the fishing boat where the murder investigator Renko now has to work. It's set on a fishing boat that mimics Russian society. And even during the liberalization of the late eighties, it becomes clear: the Soviet Union is the Soviet Union is the Soviet Union.

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don't miss the latest book in the Arkady Renko series, THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by Martin Cruz Smith, 'the master of the international thriller' (New York Times) - available to order now!

AN ARKADY RENKO NOVEL: #2

'One of those writers that anyone who is serious about their craft views with respect bordering on awe' Val McDermid

'Makes tension rise through the page like a shark's fin' Independent

***
Arkady Renko, former Chief Investigator of the Moscow Town Prosecutor's Office, made too many enemies and lost the favour of his party. After a self-imposed exile in Siberia, Renko toils on the…


Book cover of The Dogs of Riga

Elizabeth Flynn Author Of Game, Set and Murder

From my list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed murder mysteries, with spy novels coming a very close second. I like the puzzle aspect of the story and the unravelling thereof. From early in my childhood I have written and it has never occurred to me to write in any other genre than Crime Fiction. I do like, however, both in my own output and that which I read, to gain an insight into other people’s lives and histories. I like to learn about the surroundings in which the stories are set. Also, for me a must, the characters have to be rounded and three dimensional.

Elizabeth's book list on unravelling knotty murder mysteries

Elizabeth Flynn Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s set in Sweden and takes the reader to Latvia during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, so it touches on another genre that I like to dip into—spy novels. The hero is Kurt Wallander, a sympathetic character, who’s just trying to do his job which, in this case, means dealing with the bodies of two torture victims that have been discovered on the Swedish Coast. Now read on …

By Henning Mankell, Laurie Thompson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead.

The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies.

Doomed always to be one…


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