Anne Applebaum’s new book 'Iron Curtain' is a brilliant and compelling history of a brutal period in European history. It describes how - through a process of systematic Stalinisation - communist regimes were established in the countries of Eastern Europe within a remarkably short period after the end of World War II. The book is a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies are, and how vulnerable they can be to attack by unscrupulous enemies using totalitarian methods.
Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe - following their liberation - 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 the Soviet Union systematically imposed Communism on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War, indeed starting this process even before the end of the War. Applebaum describes, in lucid and 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.
Anne Applebaum is an American journalist, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post (2002-2006) and Slate Magazine.
Applebaum's 'Between East and West', her first book, was awarded an Adolph Bentinck Prize in 1996.'Gulag: A History' (2003), on the Soviet prison-camp system, was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for General Non- Fiction writing. Professor Applebaum is the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE for the current academic year.