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Conversations with Stalin, Milovan Djilas

Although I read this as a requirement for one of my classes this semester (East Europe Since 1918), I found it genuinely interesting, enough that I began and finished it in the same day. Djilas was one of the top communists of Yugoslavia, and was part of the first communist foreign missions to the Soviet Union. His book treads from the opening euphoria of the promise of socialism and its new expression, including the near-worship of its manifest leader, Stalin. Then doubts begin to creep in as he is horrified by the actions of the Red Army in his homeland and the relationship that the Soviets–communist comrades–wish to compel upon the Yugoslavs. Quickly this moves to deep disappointment as he realizes that for all their propaganda, the Soviets are truly just a different embodiment of Imperialistic Russia and that the more things have changed, the more they have actually remained the same. His personal insights into the character of the Soviet leaders lend this book a feeling of pathos that goes far beyond its historicity. Here, Stalin is seen as the man that he was, and his monstrosity is only magnified under that understanding.

[Finished 14 September 1993]


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