The Living and the Dead

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World War II killed some thirty million Soviet citizens and transformed the lives of survivors and their descendants. It was the defining ordeal that shaped the history of the Soviet behemoth in the past half-century. The Living and the Dead weaves together the tangled threads of the war's memory in the Soviet Union and Russia. This moving account of a suffering people's struggle with brutal history shows how state and party authorities stage-managed a national trauma into a heroic exploit that glorified the ...
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Overview

World War II killed some thirty million Soviet citizens and transformed the lives of survivors and their descendants. It was the defining ordeal that shaped the history of the Soviet behemoth in the past half-century. The Living and the Dead weaves together the tangled threads of the war's memory in the Soviet Union and Russia. This moving account of a suffering people's struggle with brutal history shows how state and party authorities stage-managed a national trauma into a heroic exploit that glorified the Communist partywhile systematically concealing the disastrous mistakes and criminal cruelties committed by the Stalinist tyranny. Nina Tumarkin explores the nature and fate of the myth, beginning in 1941, when Germany launched its catastrophic "Operation Barbarossa." She shows how Stalin first memorialized the war as heroic, triumphal, even messianic, but then demoted the myth because it had produced too many popular heroes and stories of personal initiative. The cult reached its apogee under Brezhnev. The second half of the book relates the poignant story of the cult's demise from 1990 onward, serving as a prism to refract the spectrum of popular responses to the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. To research the book, Tumarkin strolled with veterans in Gorky Park on Victory days, studied with Russian Army officers, and, with her own hands, unearthed the bones of some of the estimated two to three million Soviet soldiers killed in World War II but never properly buried. The author deftly interweaves into her narrative candid autobiographical sketches focusing on her own encounters with death as well as the remembrances of her Russian emigre family. A new model for bringing history to life through personal engagement and interaction, the book also helps us understand the roots of contemporary Russians' preoccupation with their nation's greatness. The Living and the Dead shows us where the Russian colossus has been - and where it may be head
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wellesley history professor Tumarkin Lenin Lives! here explains how Stalin and his successors glorified the Soviet war against Nazi Germany by orchestrating a sanitized myth of heroic triumph intended to foster support for the Communist Party and an ailing economic system. The cult of the Great Patriotic War, she demonstrates, concealed the U.S.S.R.'s disastrous unpreparedness for the 1941 German invasion, which cost 30 million Soviet lives. Stalin's murder of tens of thousands of Soviet military commanders in a purge on the eve of the war, his use of the war as a pretext to crush dissent and nationalist separatisms and his scorched-earth policy are also omitted from the official cult. Based on the author's travels in Russia between 1978 and 1992, this illuminating and poignant study contrasts the managed myth of WW II with the unvarnished memoirs of writers, filmmakers and ordinary citizens. Sept.
Library Journal
Tumarkin The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia, 1983 has successfully used personal sorrows to paint an accurate portrayal of the manipulation, by Stalin, of the Great Patriotic War World War II. She shows in detail how history was distorted, contrived, and deliberately falsified to persuade the Soviet people to do heroic deeds. This falsified history covered up the tragedy of the Russian front, Stalin's purges, and the murder of millions of Stalin's enemies. Ironically, this falsification carries a threat for us. To quote David Remnick Lenin's Tomb, LJ 6/15/93, musing on the accumulated effect of living with distorted or obliterated past: "In making a secret of history, the Kremlin made its subjects just a little more insane, a little more desperate." The cult of war continued through successive chairmen and party first secretaries until Gorbachev's glasnost. An excellent addition to academic and public libraries.-Harry Willems, Kansas Lib. System, Iola
Booknews
Accuses officials of the Soviet government and the Communist party of reconstructing the trauma of death, privation, and terror during World War II into a heroic exploit that glorified socialist values and concealed mistakes by the leadership. Also shows how the image has vanished along with the Soviet Union during the 1990s. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Weaves together the threads of the memory of WWII in the Soviet Union and Russia, showing how state & party authorities stage-managed a national trauma into a heroic exploit that glorified Communism & concealed the mistakes & cruelties of the Stalinist tyrants.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465071593
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Pages: 256

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2000

    An easy but important read

    Nina Tumarkin's style brings focul issues of our times to life in a manageable, easy 228 page read. Her presentation of the deception of the Communist Party about WW II is acurate and represents the current attitudes of those I know here in Moldova, former Soviet Union Republic. Though the truth has flooded out in Moscow, there are still parts of the former USSR which are still holding onto the war myths begun by Stalin. Tumarkin gives a wonderful and necessary demonstration for us all of how to assess and face our future in light of our past.

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