bloodlands, by timothy snyder

The bloodlands lie between Berlin and Moscow. You’ve read parts of this history before, but Timothy Snyder’s contribution (a great one) is to change the frame of reference. His subject is the decade and a half of mass death in these lands, considered as the outcome of deliberate policies on the part of both Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany. Snyder’s story thus transcends national and ethnographic boundaries and the ideological differences between Hitler and Stalin to discuss how institutional genocide was allowed to take place. In Europe. And no one cared.

It is, as you might imagine, depressing. Parts of it are heartbreaking. Parts of it are nauseating.

It’s amazing.

It’s effectively the sequel to Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919 and a companion to both Deathless and The Hare With The Amber Eyes. The other book that keeps nagging at me is Helen Darville-Demidenko’s The Hand That Signed The Paper (no link love for you, lady: you know why) which considered the Holocaust as some sort of legitimate revenge for the Ukrainian famine… of course she was a liar, as it turned out. But that’s my country for you: people lying about genocide for notoriety. (Hi, Keith Windschuttle!)

I’m listening to it in the car, which is a good way of forcing yourself to keep going. The narrator has a very particular diction, with clipped enunciation and a downward inflection. I couldn’t place it for a while, then I realized who it reminded me of: Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon. Which is downright unsettling.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.