100 books like Yezhov

By J. Arch Getty, Oleg V. Naumov,

Here are 100 books that Yezhov fans have personally recommended if you like Yezhov. 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 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 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 Steven Rendall, Steven Rendall, Nicolas Werth

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 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 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 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.


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

Samantha Lomb Author Of Stalin's Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution

From my list on Soviet social history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Language Teaching Methodologies at Vyatka State University in Kirov, Russia. My book Stalin’s Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution was published in November 2017.  Most recently I have published an article-length study entitled Peasant Communal Traditions in the Expulsion of Collective Farm Members in the Vyatka–Kirov Region 1932–1939 in Europe Asia Studies in July 2012. I am currently conducting research for a future book manuscript on daily life on the collective farms and the day-to-day relationships between collective farmers and local officials.

Samantha's book list on Soviet social history

Samantha Lomb Why did Samantha love this book?

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,…

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?…


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

Catriona Kelly Author Of St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past

From my list on modern St Petersburg.

Why am I passionate about this?

I particularly enjoyed writing this book about a city that I love and have visited many times (starting in the late 1970s, when I was a student), and whose history I know well too. Most books, by foreigners anyway, talk about the city from a distance; I wanted to write something visceral, about sounds and smells as well as sights, and above all, how locals themselves think about their city, the way in which its intense and in some respects oppressive past shapes St Petersburg’s life today – yet all the same, never gets taken too seriously. Readers seem to agree: as well as an appreciative letter from Jan Morris, whose travel writing I’ve always admired, I treasure an email message from someone who followed my advice and tramped far and wide – before ending up in the room for prisoners’ relatives to drop off parcels at Kresty (the main city prison) when he wrongly assumed he was using an entrance to the (in fact non-existent) museum.

Catriona's book list on modern St Petersburg

Catriona Kelly Why did Catriona love this book?

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.

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.


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 Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties

Michael Isikoff Author Of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

From my list on Russian espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of the Cold War, I was fascinated from an early age by Russia—and the history of U.S.-Soviet relations. I still remember devouring everything I could about many of the events of the 1960’s—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the coup that replaced Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. These and much else from this period inspired me to become a journalist. And while I have had a wide-ranging and occasionally globe-trotting career, returning to the subject of U.S.-Russia relations in Russian Roulette  and the feeling that we made a genuine contribution to contemporary history—was unusually satisfying.

Michael's book list on Russian espionage

Michael Isikoff Why did Michael love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Stalin's Door

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and Joseph Stalin?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and Joseph Stalin.

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