From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag comes a major new work of
historical and moral reckoning: the story of life behind the Iron Curtain.
Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected
to recover the lives they had led before 1939. Instead, they found themselves subjected to a
tyranny that was in many ways as inhuman as the one which they had just escaped. This book
explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after
the end of the Second World War. Applebaum describes, in calm but devastating detail, how
political parties, the church, the media, young people's organisations - the institutions of
civil society on every level - were all quickly eviscerated. Ranging widely across new
archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics
as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual
lives to show the rapid choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.
Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been
ruthlessly Stalinised. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal period in
European history, but also a reminder of how fragile free societies are, and how vulnerable
they can be to the predations of determined and unscrupulous enemies.
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