Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Between Gray and Black" might be a better title for this novel which explores an unfathomably dark period of history seldom talked about, let alone taught in public school history classes, i.e. Stalin & the Soviet Regime's murder of 43,000,000 citizens and foreigners.*(see below)
This is the story of a 15 year old girl and her family's arrest and their dehumanizing deportation, along with thousands of their countrymen, in train boxcars to slave camps throughout Russia, China, and finally to Siberia, from which she does not emerge until 10+ years later. Despite the brutality of their experiences this story is about Lithuanians, people with a beautiful capacity to love. It teaches kindness despite an atmosphere of cruelty. The author does a good job of persuading the reader that LOVE is the most powerful weapon. Read this book and ask yourself, "Would I survive?"

*R. J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, estimates the true number of deaths attributable to Joseph Stalin. He is the author of Death by Government>/u<, and his website provides the evidence in detail for what he writes. For more information on the death toll from communism, see The Red Plague.

According to Rummel the usual figure of 20 million dead is almost certainly too low and might require an increase of 50 percent or so, as the debit balance of the Stalin regime for twenty-three years! He says,
". . . 20 million does not include camp deaths after 1950, and before 1936; executions 1939-53; the vast deportation of the people of captive nations into the camps, and their deaths 1939-1953; the massive deportation within the Soviet Union of minorities 1941-1944; and their deaths; and those the Soviet Red Army and secret police executed throughout Eastern Europe after their conquest during 1944-1945 is omitted. Moreover, omitted is the deadly Ukrainian famine Stalin purposely imposed on the region and that killed 5 million in 1932-1934.

I did a comprehensive overview of available estimates . . . and wrote a book, Lethal Politics, on Soviet democide to provide understanding and context for my figures. I calculate that the Communist regime, 1917-1987, murdered about 62,000,000 people, around 55,000,000 of them citizens (see Table 1.1 for a periodization of the deaths).

As for Stalin, when the holes in Conquest’s estimates are filled in, I calculate that Stalin murdered about 43,000,000 citizens and foreigners, over twice Conquest’s total. Therefore, the usual estimate of 20 million killed in Soviet democide is far off for the Soviet Union per se, and even less than half of the total Stalin alone murdered."

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