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Agents of Terror

Ordinary Men and Extraordinary Violence in Stalin's Secret Police

Alexander Vatlin, Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Seth Bernstein, Foreword by Oleg Khlevniuk

In the Great Terror of 1937–38 more than a million Soviet citizens were arrested or killed for political crimes they didn’t commit. What kind of people carried out this violent purge, and what motivated them? This book opens up the world of the Soviet perpetrator for the first time. Focusing on Kuntsevo, the Moscow suburb where Stalin had a dacha, Alexander Vatlin shows how Stalinism rewarded local officials for inventing enemies.
            Agents of Terror reveals stunning, detailed evidence from archives available for a limited time in the 1990s. Going beyond the central figures of the terror, Vatlin takes readers into the offices and interrogation rooms of secret police at the district level. Spurred at times by ambition, and at times by fear for their own lives, agents rushed to fulfill quotas for arresting “enemies of the people”—even when it meant fabricating the evidence. Vatlin pulls back the curtain on a Kafkaesque system, forcing readers to reassess notions of historical agency and moral responsibility in Stalin-era crimes.

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Agnessa

A Gulag Memoir

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The Agony of the Russian Idea

Tim McDaniel

Boris Yeltsin's attempts at democratic reform have plunged a long troubled Russia even further into turmoil. This dramatic break with the Soviet past has left Russia politically fragmented and riddled with corruption, its people with little hope for the future. In a fascinating account for anyone interested in Russia's current political struggles, Tim McDaniel explores the inability of all its leaders over the last two centuries--tsars and Communist rulers alike--to create the foundations of a viable modern society. The problem then and now, he argues, is rooted in a cultural trap endemic to Russian society and linked to a unique sense of destiny embodied by the "Russian idea."

In its most basic sense, the Russian idea is the belief that Russia can forge a path in the modern world that sets itself apart from the West through adherence to shared beliefs, community, and equality. These cultural values, according to McDaniel, have mainly reversed the values of Western society rather than having provided a real alternative to them. By relying on the Russian idea in their programs of change, dictatorial governments almost unavoidably precipitated social breakdown.

When the Yeltsin government declared war on the Communist past, it broke with deeply held Russian values and traditions. McDaniel shows that in cutting people off from their pasts and promoting the West as the sole model of modernity, the reformers have simultaneously undermined the foundations of Russian morality and the people's sense of a future. Unwittingly, the Yeltsin government has thereby annihilated its own authority.

McDaniel lived in Russia for three years during both the Communist and post-Communist periods. Basing his analysis on broad historical research, extensive travels, countless interviews and conversations, and friendships with Russians from all walks of life, McDaniel emphasizes the perils of assuming that Russians understand the world in the same way that we do, and so can and should become like us. Challenging and provocative in its claims, this book is intended for anyone seeking to understand Russia's attempts to create a new society.

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Albania at War, 1939-1945

by Bernd Fischer

Albania at War reviews the most important developments in Albania from the Italian invasion of the country in 1939 to the accession to power of the Albanian Communist Party and the establishment of a "people's democracy" in 1946.

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The Albanian National Awakening

Stavro Skendi

The book description for "The Albanian National Awakening" is currently unavailable.

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All Russia is Burning!

A Cultural History of Fire and Arson in Late Imperial Russia

Cathy A. Frierson

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Along Ukraine's River

A Social and Environmental History of the Dnipro (Dnieper)

Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

The River Dnipro (formerly better known by the Russian name of Dnieper) is linked intimately with the history and identity of Ukraine. Cybriwsky discusses the river as it was formed in nature and as it has been used and modified by human agency from ancient times to the present. From key vantage points along the river’s course from its source in western Russia, through Belarus and Ukraine, to the Black Sea interesting stories shed light on past and present life in Ukraine. Pieces of Russian and Ukrainian literature that are set along the river are evoked, as well as various genres of song and landscape painting from various times in history. Topics include the legacy of Kyivan Rus, the period of Cossack dominion, the epic battles at the river in World War II, the building of dams and huge reservoirs by the Soviet Union, and the crisis of Chornobyl (Chernobyl). The book argues that the Dnipro and the farmlands along it are Ukraine’s chief natural resources, and that the future of the country depends on putting both to good use. Written in informal style, with sparks of humor and without academic pretentiousness, the book is illustrated with original line drawings (maps) and photographs.

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And They Lived Happily Ever After

Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe

Edited by Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko

Takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. Focuses on the problematic domains of the institutions and laws devised to cope with family difficulties, and discusses the social strains created by the transition from communist to post-communist national systems. In addition to the substantial historic analysis, actual challenges are also discussed. The essays examine the changing gender roles, alterations in legal systems, the burdens faced by married and unmarried women who are mothers, the contrasts between government rhteoric and the implementation of policies toward marriage, children and parenthood. By addressing the specifics of welfare politics under the Communist rule and the directions of their transformation in 1990–2000s, this book contributes to the understanding of social institutions and family policies in these countries and the problems of dealing with the socialist past that this region face.

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Anguish, Anger, and Folkways in Soviet Russia

by Gabor T. Rittersporn

This study offers original perspectives on the politics of everyday life in the Soviet Union by closely examining the coping mechanisms individuals and leaders alike developed as they grappled with the political, social, and intellectual challenges the system presented before and after World War II. As Rittersporn shows, the little tactics people employed in their daily lives not only helped them endure the rigors of life during the Stalin and post-Stalin periods but also strongly influenced the system’s development into the Gorbachev and post-Soviet eras.

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Anna Karenina and Others

Tolstoy’s Labyrinth of Plots

Liza Knapp

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