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Extended Audio Sample Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, by Anne Applebaum Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (486 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anne Applebaum Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system.

In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated.

Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying detail of Iron Curtain.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “One of the most compelling but also serious works on Europe’s past to appear in recent memory…In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering, and dignity.”

    Washington Post

  • “In this epic but intimate history, Ms. Applebaum offers us windows into the lives of the men and sometimes women who constructed the police states of Eastern Europe. She gives us a glimpse of those who resisted. But she also gives us a harrowing portrait of the rest—the majority of Eastern Europe’s population, who, having been caught up in the continent’s conflicts time and time again, now found themselves pawns in a global one.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Remarkable…a book that reanimates a world that was largely hidden from Western eyes, and that many people who lived and suffered in it would prefer to forget…Iron Curtain gives us some idea of what it was like to be trapped in the Soviet experiment, to be a witness to the demolition and reconstruction of one’s environment.”

    New Yorker

  • “Illuminating…Human beings, as Ms. Applebaum rousingly concludes, do not acquire ‘totalitarian personalities’ with ease.”


  • “Magisterial…Anne Applebaum is exceptionally well qualified to tell this story. Her deep knowledge of the region, breadth of view and eye for human detail makes this as readable as her last book, on the Gulag.”

    Daily Mail

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for December 2012
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Nonfiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, November 2012
  • A 2012 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Washington Post Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Karolyn | 2/9/2014

    " I, like many others, thought that liberation meant happy days were ahead, but that was definitely not the case in the Eastern Bloc countries. Certainly gives me a higher respect for the people who lived through it and finally prevailed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Marc | 2/3/2014

    " A really nice introduction to the topic--thorough, well-organized, and largely free of cant. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tfalcone | 1/24/2014

    " Good history lesson and some stuff from the cold war I actually remember like the invasion of Chekoslovakia and the eventual fall of the wall. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lisa Lieberman | 1/18/2014

    " If you'd never read anything about the first decade of the Cold War in Eastern Europe, this would be a good place to start. The basic story is laid out, and it is well told. Applebaum has synthesized a great deal of research, and knows when to insert an anecdote to liven things up. Although not as broad as Tony Judt's Postwar, and nowhere near as thought-provoking, it kept my interest to the end. "

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