My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A completely different way to think of WW2, not that I haven't revised my understanding several times over several years. In this telling, I sense the madness of Hitler to a greater extent than before in that he escalated his perfidy conveniently pursuant to his own failures. Hitler played brinksmanship beyond the extremes of reason and passion. Stalin, on the other hand seems to be have a kind of arrogance of inevitability to his calculations of starving the masses, which he moderated only to the extent (as did Hitler) that he required slaves to achieve his ends. The striking fact that both Hitler and Stalin were trying to achieve a land-based empire to rival the US is a parallel I'd never heard expressed before. Nor was I aware of the extent to which the destruction of Poland as an intellectual capitol was necessary to the achievement of that goal for both Germany and the Soviets. It is bracing to discover how much Stalin feared the wrath of the Japanese and what China's sitting out implies.
Most of all, however, Bloodlands brings home the scale of murder in between what we've all been exposed to. It is neither the pitiful tale of a family destroyed by military units or the mind boggling scale of 'millions' gassed, starved, tortured and shot. It is the village by village, train car by train car, ditch by bloody ditch account of 237 shot per day diaries, replicated all over for weeks and months on end.
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