Some historians use metal-detectors to snatch out something flashy. Others do patient archaeology, relating the tiniest object in each stratum to its context. Snyder is the second kind ... In this book, he seems to have set himself three labours. The first was to bring together the enormous mass of fresh research – some of it his own – into Soviet and Nazi killing, and produce something like a final and definitive account ... But Snyder's second job was to limit his own scope, by subject and by place ... Snyder's third aim is to correct, radically, the way we remember what happened ... Snyder shows convincingly how the Holocaust emerged ... This book's unforgettable account of the Ukraine famine shows conclusively that Stalin knew what was happening in the countryside and chose to let it run its course (some 3 million died) ... The figures are so huge and so awful that grief could grow numb. But Snyder, who is a noble writer as well as a great researcher, knows that. He asks us not to think in those round numbers.
Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale, compels us to look squarely at the full range of destruction committed first by Stalin’s regime and then by Hitler’s Reich ... Drawing on material in several European languages, including memoirs and scholarly literature, Snyder recounts this sequence of mass murder — by Stalin and then by Hitler — which accounted for 14 million civilian deaths in little more than a dozen years ... Snyder punctuates his comprehensive and eloquent account with brief glimpses of individual victims, perpetrators and witnesses, among them the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who wrote about Soviet Ukraine and Nazi Germany in the 1930s ... But Bloodlands falters when Snyder comes to deal with the aftermath of the war in the Soviet Union. Stalin became obsessed with the Jews.
Snyder’s claim that the people of Soviet Russia were far less likely to be touched by Stalin’s terror than national minorities in the ‘bloodlands’ doesn’t stand up to scrutiny ... Snyder’s relentless focus on Poland, Belarus, the Ukraine and to a lesser extent the Baltic states, and the large claims he makes for the victimisation of their inhabitants, sidelines the fate of the millions of Russians who died at Stalin’s hands ... A historian of East-Central Europe, Snyder hasn’t really mastered the voluminous literature on Hitler’s Germany. This leads him into error in a number of places ... Snyder portrays the Nazi decision-making process as far more clear-cut than most historians now think it was ... The fundamental reason for these omissions, and for the book’s failure to give an adequate account of the genesis of the Final Solution, is that Snyder isn’t seriously interested in explaining anything. What he really wants to do is to tell us about the sufferings of the people who lived in the area he knows most about ... What we need is not to be told yet again the facts about mass murder, but to understand why it took place and how people could carry it out, and in this task Snyder’s book is of no use.
Timothy Snyder’s recent Bloodlands is something of a landmark: ambitious enough in scope and breadth to not just add to our existing knowledge of the history of the war, but to change how we look at it ... Bloodlands was unique and original not in its research or findings but in its purview and frame. Bloodlands is primarily, if not solely, a narrative of victimhood, a history of the mass murders committed by Hitler and Stalin ... Snyder defocuses the prevalent Western narratives of the war (e.g. Holocaust) and skillfully (if kind of bluntly) demonstrates its multivalency and its incomprehensible man-on-man violence. This hasn’t been done before, or, at least, has never been done before as well.
In Bloodlands, a brave and original history of mass killing in the twentieth century, he argues that we still lack any real knowledge of what happened in the eastern half of Europe in the twentieth century. And he is right ... Though some of the anecdotes and statistics may be surprising to those who don’t know this part of the world, scholars will find nothing in Bloodlands that is startlingly new ... Snyder’s original contribution is to treat all of these episodes — the Ukrainian famine, the Holocaust, Stalin’s mass executions, the planned starvation of Soviet POWs, postwar ethnic cleansing — as different facets of the same phenomenon ... Yet Snyder does not exactly compare the two systems either. His intention, rather, is to show that the two systems committed the same kinds of crimes at the same times and in the same places, that they aided and abetted one another, and above all that their interaction with one another led to more mass killing than either might have carried out alone.
Among his other goals in Bloodlands, Mr. Snyder attempts to put the Holocaust in context—to restore it, in a sense, to the history of the wider European conflict. This is a task that no historian can attempt without risking controversy. Yet far from minimizing Jewish suffering, Bloodlands gives a fuller picture of the Nazi killing machine ... Yet Mr. Snyder's book does make it clear that Hitler's 'Final Solution,' the purge of European Jewry, was not a fully original idea ... Bloodlands manages to clarify as well as darken our view of this era.
Rather than analytical, the prose is white hot. He bombards the reader with phrases and concepts that are highly provocative yet do not stand up under scrutiny ... The numbers are horrific, the language incandescent, and the logic murky. Snyder does not explain why this particular piece of terrain deserves the title 'bloodlands' while others do not ... The murk has its uses, evading the question of causation by surrounding it with a kind of rhetorical smokescreen. And so Snyder can have Hitler and Stalin collaborating in one another’s crimes at a time when they were at each other’s throat without pausing to explain how that could possibly be. The effect is to suggest that the two regimes were morally equivalent while avoiding an overt engagement with the more unsavory implications associated with the concept of moral equivalence that arose during the famous Historikerstreit of the 1980s ... Bloodlands is important because it is less an effort to understand what happened in 1933–45 than a milestone in the process of engagement with local revanchist forces.
...a genuinely shattering report on the ideology, the political strategy, and the daily horror of Soviet and Nazi rule in the region that Timothy Snyder calls the bloodlands ... one must agree with Snyder that the doubtful honor of having lost the highest proportion of their inhabitants during the war belongs to Poland, the three Baltic countries, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of western Russia. The tragedy of the other European states pales in comparison ...Timothy Snyder did archival research in English, German, Yiddish, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Russian, and French. His learning is extraordinary. His vivid imagination leads him to see combinations, similarities, and general trends where others would see only chaos and confusion, and this inevitably invites heated debate ... The story of Stalin’s collectivization drive and the ensuing mass starvation forms perhaps the most dramatic chapter of the book.
In this scrupulously researched history, Snyder chronicles atrocities committed by both Hitler and Stalin in central Poland, western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States ... Snyder does not argue for a supposed moral equivalence between Hitler’s extermination of the Jews and the earlier Stalinist extermination of the kulaks. On the contrary, the industrial exploitation of corpses and their ashes was a uniquely Hitlerian atrocity – a unique instance of human infamy ... As a history of political mass murder, Bloodlands serves to illuminate the political sickness that reduced 14 million people to the status of non-persons.
Mr Snyder's book is revisionist history of the best kind: in spare, closely argued prose, with meticulous use of statistics, he makes the reader rethink some of the best-known episodes in Europe's modern history. For those who are wedded to the simplistic schoolbook notions that the Hitlerites were the mass murderers and the Soviets the liberators, or that the killing started in 1939 and ended in 1945, Mr Snyder's theses will be thought-provoking or shocking. Even those who pride themselves on knowing their history will find themselves repeatedly brought up short by his insights, contrasts and comparisons. Some ghastly but well-known episodes recede; others emerge from the shadows ... Mr Snyder's book straightens the record in favour of the voiceless and forgotten ... Mr Snyder's book weaves the stories together, explaining how the horrors interacted and reinforced each other ... Mr Snyder's scrupulous and nuanced book steers clear of the sterile, sloganising exchanges about whether Stalin was as bad as Hitler, or whether Soviet mass murder in Ukraine or elsewhere is a moral equivalent of the Nazis' extermination of the Jews. What it does do, admirably, is to explain and record.
Snyder shows how many millions of the deaths in the bloodlands were brought about by what he calls 'belligerent complicity' between the two men ... Some may find Snyder’s staking-out of the area of the bloodlands too arbitrary for their tastes, and might accuse him of creating a questionable geographical delineation. Agree with it or not, in a sense it does not matter, because Snyder presents material that is undeniably fresh – what’s more, it comes from sources in languages with which very few western academics are familiar ... The success of Bloodlands really lies in its effective presentation of cold, hard scholarship, which is in abundance.
A chillingly systematic study of the mass murder mutually perpetrated by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany ... The author asserts that the fuzzy understanding of the death camps has skewed the truth about the mass killing, only hinting at their terrifying extent ... Snyder devotes ample space to the partisan efforts, the incineration of Warsaw and Stalin’s eager postwar ethnic-cleansing sweep. In the concluding chapter, 'Humanity,' the author urges readers to join him in a clear-eyed reexamination of this comparative history of mass murder and widespread suffering ... A significant work of staggering figures and scholarship.