100 books like Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial

By Lynne Viola,

Here are 100 books that Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial fans have personally recommended if you like Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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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 Comrade Pavlik: The Rise And Fall Of A Soviet Boy Hero

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 intriguing as it reads like a historical detective mystery. Pavlik Morozov was murdered in Siberia and the Soviet state used the murder to further its propaganda effort to inculcate youth into proper modes of socialist behavior. He was turned into a martyr for the Soviet cause and some relatives were railroaded into confessing to his murder, however the author sheds considerable doubt that the true culprits were caught. The whole story reeks of cynicism and fickleness on the part of the powers that be as they tried to make an example of the life of Morozov.

By Catriona Kelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It was September, 1932. Gerasimovka, Western Siberia. Two children are found dead in the forest outside a remote village. Both have been repeatedly stabbed and their bloody bodies are covered in sticky, crimson cranberry juice. Who committed these horrific murders has never been proved, but the elder boy, thirteen-year-old Pavlik Morozov, was quickly to become the most famous boy in Soviet history - statues of him were erected, biographies published, and children across the country were exhorted to emulate him. Catriona Kelly's aim is not to find out who really killed the boys, but rather to explore how Stalin's regime…


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

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 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…

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…


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

Susanne Schattenberg Author Of Brezhnev: The Making of a Statesman

From my list on Pre-Putin’s Soviet Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I had to choose another elective subject at school, my grandmother advised me: "Take Russian. We will have to deal with the Russians – for better or for worse.” So I chose Russian as my third foreign language and my grandmother was right – first it came good: perestroika and glasnost, then it came bad: Putinism. So I studied Russian and history, did my doctorate and habilitation in Russian-Soviet history, and today I am a professor of contemporary history and culture of Eastern Europe and head of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. 

Susanne's book list on Pre-Putin’s Soviet Russia

Susanne Schattenberg Why did Susanne love this book?

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. 

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…


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

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 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.

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…


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 The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union

Fabian Baumann Author Of Dynasty Divided: A Family History of Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism

From my list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was through learning Russian in my Swiss high school that I first got interested in the history of Eastern Europe. When I became fascinated by the theory of nationalism during my university studies, my geographical focus shifted to Ukraine, a society whose aspiration to nationhood has been repeatedly been contested by the neighboring great powers. For my first book, I researched the history of a fascinating nationally bifurcated family whose members have left archival traces from Moscow to Liubljana and from Kyiv to Stanford. I hold a BA degree from the University of Geneva, an MPhil from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from the University of Basel.

Fabian's book list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Fabian Baumann Why did Fabian love this book?

Putin’s war, among other things, is aimed at reversing Ukraine’s move towards independence after the crumbling of the Soviet Union in the wake of Gorbachev’s perestroika.

Serhii Plokhy, one of the most respected experts in Ukrainian history, explains in detail how the Ukrainian party leadership and population played a central role in the dissolution of the union. An essential read to understand the processes that ultimately led towards Ukraine’s democratization and towards the rise of a revisionist authoritarianism in Russia.

By Serhii Plokhy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On Christmas Day, 1991, President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation to declare an American victory in the Cold War: earlier that day Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned as the first and last Soviet president. The enshrining of that narrative, one in which the end of the Cold War was linked to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the triumph of democratic values over communism, took centre stage in American public discourse immediately after Bush's speech and has persisted for decades,with disastrous consequences for American standing in the world.As Prize-winning historian Serhii Plokhy reveals in The Last Empire ,…


Book cover of The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

Fabian Baumann Author Of Dynasty Divided: A Family History of Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism

From my list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was through learning Russian in my Swiss high school that I first got interested in the history of Eastern Europe. When I became fascinated by the theory of nationalism during my university studies, my geographical focus shifted to Ukraine, a society whose aspiration to nationhood has been repeatedly been contested by the neighboring great powers. For my first book, I researched the history of a fascinating nationally bifurcated family whose members have left archival traces from Moscow to Liubljana and from Kyiv to Stanford. I hold a BA degree from the University of Geneva, an MPhil from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from the University of Basel.

Fabian's book list on the long prehistory of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Fabian Baumann Why did Fabian love this book?

Soviet rule completely changed the relationship between Russia as the imperial metropole and Ukraine as a peripheral territory in the empire.

It was through Terry Martin’s classic that I first understood the enormous political implications of the Soviets’ intricate nationality policy that invested the state’s various ethnic groups with their own national educational and administrative institutions, all the while depriving them of the right to political self-determination.

Martin’s analysis is as sharp as his prose is crisp and his detailed understanding of the Bolsheviks’ political reasoning remains impressive over twenty years after the study’s publication.

By Terry Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Terry Martin looks at the nationalities policy of the early Soviet period and offers an insightful, detailed analysis of a problem that Soviet leaders grappled with throughout the twentieth century. As he points out, it was a problem that eventually helped to usher in the end of the USSR."
- Amanda Wood Aucoin, New Zealand Slavonic Journal

The Soviet Union was the first of Europe's multiethnic states to confront the rising tide of nationalism by systematically promoting the national consciousness of its ethnic minorities and establishing for them many of the institutional forms characteristic of the modern nation-state. In the…


Book cover of The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Author Of Torch

From my list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of multiple middle grade and YA historical novels, including Torch, which won the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. Torch takes place in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and it is especially timely in the face of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Bear (a popular symbol of the Russian Empire) has mauled many of its neighbors in the past century, not only Czechoslovakia and Ukraine but also the Baltic countries that, like Ukraine, were incorporated into the Soviet Union and the other Eastern European countries that were part of the Soviet bloc until the fall of Communism in 1989. 

Lyn's book list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Why did Lyn love this book?

Dual timeline narratives connect young people’s lives today with those of family members in the past.

This one contrasts the fear and isolation Matthew feels during the 2020 Covid lockdown with the terror experienced by his great grandmother living in Kiev (now Kyiv, Ukraine) during the Holodomor. The futile efforts of a relative who escaped to alert Americans to Soviet oppression and Ukrainians’ starvation raises important questions for budding journalists who seek to tell the truth in the face of pressure and propaganda.

By Katherine Marsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Thirteen-year-old Matthew is miserable. His journalist dad is stuck overseas, and his mum has moved his great-grandmother in with them to ride out the pandemic, adding to his stress and isolation.

But when Matthew finds a photo in his great-grandmother's belongings, he discovers a clue to a hidden chapter of her past, one that will reveal a life-shattering family secret. Set in alternating timelines that connect the present day to the 1930s and the US to the USSR, Katherine Marsh's latest novel sheds light on the Holodomor - the horrific famine that killed millions of Ukrainians.


Book cover of The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Author Of In Defense of Universal Human Rights

From my list on readable stories on human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of international human rights and comparative genocide studies. My father was a refugee from the Holocaust. So I was always interested in genocide, but I did not want to be another Holocaust scholar. Instead, I introduced one of the first university courses in Canada on comparative genocide studies. From a very young age, I was also very interested in social justice: I was seven when Emmett Till was murdered in the US. So when I became a professor, I decided to specialize in international human rights. I read a lot of “world literature” fiction that helps me to empathize with people in places I’ve never been.

Rhoda's book list on readable stories on human rights

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Why did Rhoda love this book?

This is one of the first books in English on what we now call the Holodomor, the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s.

It’s now estimated that about 3.3 million people died in this famine, which Stalin imposed via a policy of “collectivization.” Under this policy, Ukrainian peasants had to turn over their entire harvests to the state, leaving nothing for themselves to eat: some even turned to cannibalism. Things were so bad that the government put up posters saying, “eating people is wrong.” 

When Conquest published this book in 1986, many people denounced him as a right-wing anti-communist, but since then many other scholars have proved him right. This was one of the first books I read when I started teaching courses on comparative genocide studies in the 1980s. 

By Robert Conquest,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Harvest of Sorrow is the first full history of one of the most horrendous human tragedies of the 20th century. Between 1929 and 1932 the Soviet Communist Party struck a double blow at the Russian peasantry: dekulakization, the dispossession and deportation of millions of peasant families, and collectivization, the abolition of private ownership of land and the concentration of the remaining peasants in party-controlled "collective" farms. This was
followed in 1932-33 by a "terror-famine," inflicted by the State on the collectivized peasants of the Ukraine and certain other areas by setting impossibly high grain quotas, removing every other source…


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