Author: Lev Emmanuilovich Razgon
Description: Lev Razgon became famous overnight when his memoirs first appeared in Russia in 1988. They were a sensation both due to his angle of vision - Razgon was living among the Party elites as the Stalinist terror of 1937 began - as well as to his sophisticated understanding of both his country and his century. His remarkably long life took him from the shtetl and a family which had been unlucky with the authorities for many generations, to Moscow where he was a Communist journalist and writer, to 17 years in labor camps (a fate shared by both his wives). When he finally returned to Moscow for good, he went back to writing books for young adults and worked in secret on these memoirs. The last man alive to have actually attended and survived the Communist Party Congress of 1934 - most of those attending were dead within three years - Razgon brilliantly conveys the everyday atmosphere of a Soviet world of privilege about to be destroyed. Stalin had given secret orders that the families and friends of the powerful be decimated as a lesson in terror, a preemptive strike against any thoughts of a coup. In this book the personalities and stories which shaped Razgon's existence before and after his seventeen years in the camps are emphasized. Razgon's journalistic curiosity and interest in history as well as individuals led him in unusual directions. Much here is new: the characters and fates of the jailers; the camp lives of the wives of the Soviet elite, imprisoned as hostages to control their powerful husbands; and the frustration of formerly high-ranking military men, forgotten prisoners of the gulag as they see that World War II is approaching.
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