Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
A timely and excellent exploration of a forgotten battlefield.
It's easy to reduce the Second World War to the extermination camps, resistance, and large-scale battles. This book tells the story of the civilian terror visited on the people of Eastern Europe before, during, and after the period we usually regard as "fighting". From Stalin's Great Terror, through the Nazi occupation, and then the reprisals that Stalin re-visited on the "Bloodlands", it's an almost inconceivable story of loss and random death that Snyder manages to tell without falling into any of the traps or tropes that he might have done. He keeps his perspective while telling of the death of (literally) millions, with a good eye for the individual story and copious support from documents and eye witnesses. It's a uniquely valuable contribution to the literature on the war, and doubly valuable today when nationalism is once again on the march. Without thinking history will repeat itself, it still does no harm to be reminded of what can happen.
5/5. Finished 29 December 2016.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)