The Whisperers by Orlando Figes
Private Life in Stalin's Russia

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From the award-winning author of A People's Tragedy and Natasha's Dance, a landmark account of what private life was like for Russians in the worst years of Soviet repression

There have been many accounts of the public aspects of Stalin's dictatorship: the arrests and trials, the enslavement and killing in the gulags. No previous book, however, has explored the regime's effect on people's personal lives, what one historian called "the Stalinism that entered into all of us." Now, drawing on a huge collection of newly discovered documents, The Whisperers reveals for the first time the inner world of ordinary Soviet citizens as they struggled to survive amidst the mistrust, fear, compromises, and betrayals that pervaded their existence.

Moving from the Revolution of 1917 to the death of Stalin and beyond, Orlando Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family or, perversely, end up saving it. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrest as a case of mistaken identity; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.

A vast panoramic portrait of a society in which everyone spoke in whispers--whether to protect their families and friends, or to inform upon them--The Whisperers is a gripping account of lives lived in impossible times.


About Orlando Figes

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Orlando Figes is the author of The Crimean War, The Whisperers, Natasha's Dance, and A People's Tragedy, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. The recipient of the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among others, Figes is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Published November 25, 2008 by Metropolitan Books. 788 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The people whisper while denunciations are shouted all around: an exemplary study in mentalités, asking how the norms of old were so thoroughly remade in the years of Soviet terror.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Whisperers: Private Life ...

The New York Times

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Ordinary Russians remember the gulag years.

Nov 25 2007 | Read Full Review of The Whisperers: Private Life ...

Publishers Weekly

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One in eight people in the Soviet Union were victims of Stalin's terror—virtually no family was untouched by purges, the gulag, forced collectivization and resettlement, says Figes in th

Jul 23 2007 | Read Full Review of The Whisperers: Private Life ...

BC Books

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Documentary, family and oral history create a thorough and meaningful exploration of individual and family life in Stalin's Russia.

Nov 15 2007 | Read Full Review of The Whisperers: Private Life ...

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