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

Overview


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 ...
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Overview


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 of food, and preventing help from outside--even from other areas of the Soviet Union--from reaching the starving populace. The death toll resulting from the actions described in this book was an estimated 14.5 million--more than the total number of deaths for all countries in World War I.

Ambitious, meticulously researched, and lucidly written, The Harvest of Sorrow is a deeply moving testament to those who died, and will register in the Western consciousness a sense of the dark side of this century's history.

Harvest of Sorrow sheds new light on a tragic episode in human history, and is essential for understanding the inner workings of the Soviet Union.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195051803
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/12/1987
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 430
  • Sales rank: 254,497
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Conquest is Senior Research Fellow and Scholar-Curator of the East European Collection at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of numerous books on Soviet studies and has published poetry, criticism, and fiction.

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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction

Part I. The Protagonists: Party, Peasants and Nation
1. The Peasants and the Party
2. The Ukrainian Nationality and Leninism
3. Revolution, Peasant War and Famines, 1917-1921
4. Stalemate, 1921-1927

Part II. To Crush the Peasantry
5. Collision Course, 1928-1929
6. The Fate of 'Kulaks'
7. Crash Collectivization and its Defeat, January-March 1930
8. The End of the Free Peasantry, 1930-1932
9. Central Asia and the Kazakh Tragedy
10. The Churches and the People

Part III. The Terror-Famine
11. Assault on the Ukraine
12. The Famine Rages
13. A Land Laid to Waste
14. Kuban, Don and Volga
15. Children
16. The Death Roll
17. The Record of the West
18. Responsibilities

Epilogue: The Aftermath Notes Select Bibliography Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2001

    the unknown holocaust

    this is an excellent overview of the unknown holocaust of the 20-th century: when 7 million innocent Ukrainian men, women and children ( mostly peasants) died from artificial famine, orchestrated by the satraps from Moscow, such as Kaganovych, Krushchev, et al.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2000

    Conquest's 'Harvest of Sorrow'

    In his book, 'The Harvest of Sorrow,' Robert Conquest examines the dekulakization collectivization of Soviet agriculture that took place between 1929 and 1932. To increase the industrial might of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin ordered the collectivization of rural farms to fund his five-year-plan, which was to modernize the Soviet Union comparable to western standards. Conquest argues that as a result of collectivization, famine spread throughout many Soviet provinces, killing a large percentage of the population. To support his claims, Conquest uses evidence of Soviet documents, that were able to reach the west, reports of foreign correspondents, Soviet scholarship from the Khrushchev period, and firsthand accounts from survivors...... The primary motivation and justification of dekulakization and collectivization policies stemmed from Lenin's belief that a class struggle existed between wealthy peasants, kulaks, and poor peasants. He believed that the kulak exploitation of the peasant was the driving force of the rural economy. Stalin used Leninist propaganda to support his collectivization policies from 1929 until 1932, although his motivations appear more economic. During these years, Stalin's policies were aimed at dekulakization, the deportation and elimination of the 'class enemy,' driving out the rural economy, and all peasants joining collective farms...... Conquest makes a firm argument why many of the collectivization policies were resisted by peasant farmers. Kulaks were seen by the Soviet government as enemies of the people, and often they were the wealthier peasants in a village. The definition of a wealthy peasant, however, is not necessarily related to a large landowning peasants. In many cases, those labeled 'Kulaks' only owned slightly more than the average peasant. Anyone who showed resistance to Soviet policies was also labeled a 'kulak' and could be shipped off to labor camps as well. The Soviet Union used the deportation of kulaks as a scare tactic to other peasants who remained on the farms who wanted to avoid the fate, that members of their own family in many cases, had received...... Stalin proposed a five-year-plan, which was outlined to industrialize the nation at a rapid speed by using peasant grain as a backbone. The plan was written without proper understanding of the economic situation of the rural economy. Outrageous grain quotas were placed on peasants. When peasants were unable to produce the quota, their homes were raided and any food or livestock they possessed were confiscated, with little concern of the welfare of the peasants...... These outrageous grain quotas set by Stalin led to economic disaster. Rather than hand over their crops to the government without keeping any for themselves, many peasants quit working their fields or allowed their crops to perish. Conquest argues that starvation became policy in 1932, when Stalin ordered the Ukraine to export the bulk of its grain to areas in Russia. When obvious signs of starvation resulted, the Soviet government offered no relief for the victims. The obvious prejudices aimed at the Ukraine also included the desecration of their religion and language. Conquest writes of pillaging of Orthodox churches and the confiscation of church bells for their metal. The use of the native Ukranian dialect was also outlawed by Stalin. The casualties of the Ukraine account for nearly half of the death toll, according to Conquest's research. While Soviet officials in the Ukraine were well fed, peasants faced the horrors of starvation and were forbidden to move into urban areas. Children were abandoned by their parents, peasants fell victim to outrageous judicial penalties, starving peasants ate bark, rats, cats, dogs, and any other substance they could eat, and in some cases resorted to cannibalism...... The attempts of collectivization were fatal to many areas according to Conquest, including Kazakhstan

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    Depressing book to read but difficult to put down!

    Robert Conquest truly shows us what a terrible regime dominated the Soviet Union during the 1930's. Stalin and his henchmen were every bit as depraved as the monsters just getting the Third Reich in to power in Germany. Stalin once said that an individual death was a great tragedy but a million deaths were statistics. Conquest has put people and places behind the ghastly statistics. The chapter devoted to children was absolutely heart-wrenching. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Soviet Union. Especially anyone who ever felt that there was some noble ideals behind Marxism and the way it was imposed upon millions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2012

    This is the one book on the 1932 Famine that has passed the test

    This is the one book on the 1932 Famine that has passed the test of time. Published in 1986 it is still in print and held in high regard. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about, in the words of a memorial in Ukraine, "Communist Inquisition".

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  • Posted January 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bad anti-communist propaganda

    The author, who wrote many of Thatcher's (worst) speeches, admits that this book is based on hearsay and rumour not on proper research. So his figures are ridiculous exaggerations. Far too many writers on the subject have relied not on the archives, but on Conquest¿s estimates. <BR/>However, a proper historian, Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, has explained how Conquest reached his figures. He writes: ¿Robert Conquest¿s The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine (New York, 1986) argues that the `dekulakization¿ of the early 1930s led to the deaths of 6,500,000 people. But this estimate is arrived at by extremely dubious methods, ranging from reliance on hearsay evidence through double counting to the consistent employment of the highest possible figures in estimates made by other historians.¿ The true figure for the 1930s is about 300,000 deaths.<BR/>Another decent historian, Professor R. W. Davies, wrote, ¿The archival data are entirely incompatible with such very high figures, which continue to be cited as firm fact in both the Russian and the Western media.¿ (Soviet history in the Yeltsin era, Macmillan, 1997, page 172.)<BR/>So it's high time that Conquest's book was thrown into the dustbin of history.<BR/>Read Douglas Tottle's book, "Fraud, famine and fascism" instead, for an exposure of the US/British propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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