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  • Red Famine

  • Stalin's War on Ukraine
  • Written by: Anne Applebaum
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 17 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Russia
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag and the National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain, a revelatory history of one of Stalin's greatest crimes - the consequences of which still resonate today.

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization - in effect a second Russian Revolution - which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief, the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.

Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: After a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic's borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum's compulsive narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the 20th century and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the 21st.

©2017 Anne Applebaum (P)2017 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Red Famine

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A must read

People my age faun over celebrities, well my ‘celebrities’ are people such as Anne Applebaum. Her books are such an amazing and captivating read. I can not recommend this book enough. Years of meticulous research went into this well crafted book. Well done Anne, I know I will never get the chance to meet you but I hope you know how much people appreciate your work.

2 people found this helpful

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Essential book - must read for all!

This is an incredible telling of a tragic famine. This book helped me understand the modern relation between Ukraine and Russia and it's genocidal past. The audio performance is perfect! The structure of the book is great as well. 5/5

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Excellent but dark and disturbing

Incredible book!! Applebaum's research is exhaustive and fascinating though the subject matter is dark and disturbing at times. Glad to know that this genocide which the various authorities over the decades have tried to hide is illuminated and exposed by this great book. I will definitely re-listen to this book again and read Applebaum's other books. The narration was crisp and clean with good pronunciation (or at least it seemed so to me). I liked that Torren didn't put on accents or do voices when speaking as other characters. I personally prefer to listen to a reading that is not a performance but rather, a clear reading of the material without individualizing it much and distracting the listener. Great book that should be read by everyone and a sad history that should not be forgotten.

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A Thorough Study of Holodomor

This is a difficult book to listen to due to it's content. It provides an eye opening and painstaking account of the atrocities perpetrated by the communist state, directed at the helm by Stalin himself, against the Ukrainian peasants during the 1920s and 30s - from state-directed mass-starvation (designed as a retaliatory strategy to weaken the "anti-collectivist" peasant class), to the subsequent bureaucratic cover up, as well as the ruthless dehumanization of the kulak peasants by Soviet authorities on all levels of government. It is an important chapter in 20th century history that is rarely taught in public institutions in the west and I am very glad I stumbled upon this book. Makes me want to read more about the Stalinist era and its various histories throughout the USSR.

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The brutal truth

a clear depiction of one of the most denied genocides of modern human history. A must for those devoted to the study of Holodomor.

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Biased

It seems as though they always blame external factors in order to please their audience but I feel as though we aren't getting the whole picture

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Reviewing for entry into contest.

This book was great. I really enjoyed listening to the speaker and the content was fascinating. It is obviously very well researched, and provided a detailed history of the famine. I have read others by Anne and she is a great writer, and clearly knows her content. #Audible1

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excellent but...

well written, well researched using newly available archival materials contribution to the study and elucidation of this topic

very compelling, and wonderfully read

but... this otherwise excellent production is marred by the reader of the ukrainian passages. the ukrainian is read as if it was russian!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mendy
  • 2018-01-21

Horrifying

Everyone should feel morally obligated to read this horrifying chapter of history. We all know the of the evils committed by Nazism. Why don't we know as much about the evils of communism?

23 people found this helpful

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  • Lena
  • 2018-02-09

A thorough view into Stalin's regime in Ukraine

Anne Applebaum’s book Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine gives a thorough view into a very tragic moment in the history of Ukraine and its people. The story of famine in Ukraine is presented in this book in the context of historical events that took place during 1917-1930th. Without understanding of what was happening in Ukraine in the post-revolutionary and during the civil war years in the beginning of the 20 century, the whole account of the man-made famine, deliberately aiming to destroy one nation or one class of a nation (the peasants), would be hard to believe. Applebaum made this story to speak for itself by bringing to the light archive materials, personal stories and pictures that undeniably prove the existence of the state-created and successfully executed by the communist regime famine in Ukraine that still hunts the country down in present time.
Destruction of the national political elite (arrests and killing of the national leaders), removal of the active peasants (“dekulakization" and massive deportations of Ukrainians from their land) created the political vacuum in towns and subdued the rather stubborn national movement in the countryside. Banning the Ukrainian language, literature, music, cultural and spiritual rites and customs (churches, holidays, social structure in villages, council of the elderly) effectively depressed the national identity of Ukrainians. Destruction of the established free market system, collectivization and following confiscation of the land, machinery and livestock, removal of grain (prodrazverstka) and the ultimate removal of all grain and food (preserved as a seed or for the personal consumption) led to the catastrophic events in 1932-1933. All of that can be associated with the humanitarian crisis deliberately created in order to subdue the once proud and free willing people into slavery and obedience to the regime. As a result, people started to distrust the state and the fellow villagers, became indifferent and mostly hostile to the collective farms that in turn caused the diminishing production of grain and other farm products. The deepest human vices were unleashed: impunity of the members of the ruling party started to flourish, killing fellow villagers in order to obtain their possessions or even some food, became new norm. In the once rich and prosperous land, diseases and starvation spread rapidly leading to death of both the weak and strong.
As a child of the soviet time, I was raised on the beliefs about the internal and external enemies of the Soviet motherland that we had to uncover and fight by any means. Total propaganda... My grandparents, who survived to see me grow, were reluctant to tell me anything about that time. But I always sensed some distrust and even fear to the state or to strangers. Either during family gatherings or while listening people talk at a store on a countryside or in a farm (kolkhoz), one would never speak openly about any complains or injustice in the society.
The Red Famine book, though in a highly emotional tone, helped me to place that tragic period of time deep in my heart. It helped me to understand what circumstances shaped the people who were born in the early 20th and late 30th of the 20th century. Now I deeply regret I haven't asked enough questions to the survivors of the holodomor. Once you’ve read about the Stalin created famine in Ukraine, this part of the human history could not be forgotten or ignored.
I hope this book is translated to both Ukrainian and Russian language. It would be a great addition to the already existed score of this events.

A political anecdote from the 1980s:
A grain collection officer: the people of Ukraine are crying that there is no more food left.
Stalin: if they cry, they still have some left to part with. Proceed as I said until they start to laugh.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • 2017-11-21

Shocking inhumanity

Well researched and easy to follow. The evils of Stalin and Soviet Russia are detailed in this focused looked at the Stalin-caused Ukraine famine of 1930 to 1931.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Joey
  • 2020-05-14

Palpable bias misleading subject matter

I was hoping to read about the plight of the Ukrainians during the intentional Bolshevik famine that killed so many. Instead the author, who is Jewish, writes about how every faction committed atrocities against the Jewish people for absolutely no reason. Her tone essentially denies that there were any Jewish Bolsheviks while conveniently not mentioning that Lenin, Marx, Trotsky, and much of the Bolshevik leadership was Jewish. She treats it as a “conspiracy theory”.

If one reads all Jewish historical writing one would be forced to conclude that the world was full of A billion Jews and that the early 19th century was nothing but every nation killing Jews for no reason.

This purchase is great if you want to hear more about how Jews are persecuted everywhere all the time for no reason.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Scot
  • 2018-12-03

Terribly Disappointing

Unfortunately, from my perspective, Ms. Applebaum's book is more a social commentary than a true history of the details of the famine. Very very few facts are given and there is no semblance of scope or and even of a timeline of the happenings of the famine. It reads more like a diary. Also, the first 2 hours of the book is explained as 'background' and the last 2 hours of the book are wrap-up and epilogue (therefore about a quarter of the book is not even used to discuss the topic that the book is supposed to be about). Joseph Stalin in mentioned only a few times, yet this name is in the title. I do not understand how this book made it past an editor. As I wrote in the the headline, I am terribly disappointed that the book was not a more gripping history of what is an extremely tragic and important event in the history of Ukraine and of the entire world.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs.
  • 2017-12-14

Still ever so relevant

This is by far the best book (available in English) ever written on the topic, it beats the previous definitive text by Robert Conquest. The writing is engaging and the detail, while certainly in great depth, works to make this a fascinating volume rather than some highly detailed books that simply become a drudgery.
The book also provides excellent background to the famine, looking at the Ukrainian experience during WWI, the Revolution and the horrific Civil War. Once again exquisite detail and vignettes make this an excellent listen.
I stated in the title that this book remains highly relevent and this is because of Applebaum's examination of class warfare and the horrors of Socialism, as seen in the Soviet Union. The Soviet propoganda that pushed for the confiscation of the property of the wealthy and the imposition of special taxes coupled with a hatred of those who wished to maintain their land and property is well detailed. The term Kulak was used for farmers of this ilk and soon became utterly unsupported by any real relationship to net worth.
The Famine remains a source of national mourning in Ukraine and is still a focal point related to state relations in E Europe.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Booothby, III
  • 2018-01-22

interesting discussion

I was always curious about the nuances of communism and how it used the prejudices of others to ultimately kill off those whose prejudices were previously useful.

This is a good explanation of that.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-10-06

pause.....food....pause

I really hated the performance here. Everytime the 'food' is mentioned there's a giant pregnant pause. I get there was a famine. it's in the title. ...food....

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sergei
  • 2018-08-06

Little known colossal event

There are very few events in recent history that are so cataclysmic yet almost entirely overlooked. Applebaum shines a much needed light on the story with a lot of exposition on the events and people that led to the Holodomor. This is beyond doubt the best retelling of the Holodomor, not only in English but in any language.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 2018-07-12

Red Famine

Very interesting and many facts I was unaware of. Well worth the read or listen.

2 people found this helpful