Loyal Comrades Ruthless Killers: The Secret Services of the USSR 1917 - 1991by Slava Katamidze
Loyal Comrades, Ruthless Killers is a candid and revealing history of the secret services of the Soviet Union. Written by a former member of the Soviet military, it analyzes the development of the secret services from the Cheka through to the KGB and their role in such events as the attacks on the peasantry in the 1920s, the Great Purge of the 1930s and the creation of the Gulag camp system. Chilling, authoritative and highly readable, Loyal Comrades, Ruthless Killers presents a fresh slant on twentieth-century history.
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Katamidze accepts some of the confessions and accusations which were extracted under torture in the 1930's by stating that only one or two of the condemned recanted during trial. The fact that the condemned feared for their families is not mentioned. He really loses his reader when discussing the Katyn Massacre. He wites that, 'Many respectable Western historians accept as fact that the Russians were responsible for the Katyn killings. However, this is still in dispute.' BY WHOM? Gorbachev admitted it in 1990. Yeltsin released documents signed by Beria, Stalin, Mikoyan, and Molotov. What is in dispute? The Soviet Union was as criminal a state as Nazi Germany. That is indisputable.
If the book were a speech that Katamidze was giving, he wouldn¿t breathe once. After finishing LCRK, an interested reader will be disappointed that this was not written in several volumes of the same length as the entire text. Ten chapters and two hundred twenty five pages do not seem like enough space in which to capture nearly eighty years of history of an organization as important and impacting as the KGB. There is obviously much more information and Katamidze, though eloquent and natural in his writing for the most part, squeezes a lot of information into very finite book covers. There is a toss-up pro and con to this outcome. The influx may make readers scratch their heads, close the book, and say, ¿I didn¿t retain anything from this big red book.¿ This is problematic, but not shocking. While the information may cause a few heads to spin if the readers are unacquainted with the subject, once hooked, some interested readers will not want to put it down, may read it a second time, and will still be asking questions about certain gaps in history and data. This many cause them to go out and research the subject ad nausea until they can actually pronounce each name of every figure (and there are hundreds) mentioned within the text. As a side note, Katamidze provides a glossary of terms commonly used throughout the book. (Bravo, Katamidze.) In short, Slava Katamidze¿s book is a good starting point to a very broad, circuitous, and corrupted subject. It succeeds in sparking interest in Russian relations and history, and seems to (as much as it can, more or less) accurately portray the information. The subject of Soviet terror is one that should be approached with an open mind, a sound stomach, and a solid amount of patience. Katamidze definitely raises the ¿iron curtain¿ for his readers, but by no means closes it. Further reading is needed to get any sort of grasp on what the terror, the government administrations, the ¿secret¿ organization, the history of Russia and the USSR really wrought.