Iron Curtain

The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956

At the end of WWII, the Soviet Union, to its surprise and delight, found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Central Europe. It set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system, Communism. Iron Curtain describes how the communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created, and what daily life was like once they were complete. Applebaum draws on newly opened European archives and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devestating detail millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief, rendered worthless their every qualification, and took everything away they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Block is a lost civilization, once whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality and strange aethestics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of this book.

Reviews

Finalist, Lionel Gelber Prize (2013)

“Anne Applebaum captures this world with a cast of characters full of human weaknesses and ambiguity, neither caricatured heroes nor villains, but real people making daily compromises with a fickle and dangerous state… . A highly readable and human account… . [An] important and beautifully written book.”
Globe and Mail
 
“A masterful study of how Eastern Europe wound up under [the] Soviet Union’s heel… . Magisterial .”
Calgary Herald
 
“In Iron Curtain, Anne Applebaum captures the demeaning claustrophobia of Soviet-dominated regimes in Central Europe after 1945. With devastating precision, Applebaum documents the subordination of every autonomous social force in these countries by a paranoid and greedy power. Rarely has the fragility of liberalism been more deftly portrayed.”
—Jury Citation, Lionel Gelber Prize (2013)
 
“Applebaum is the ideal author for such a vast project … she gives human texture to the well-documented historic record by giving voice to aging witnesses and illuminating previously buried material.”
Toronto Star
 
“Applebaum evokes the tragic plight of Eastern Europe under Soviet domination. She brilliantly reconstructs what life was like in the various totalitarian states; she has produced a superb historical narrative.”  
Winnipeg Free Press