Friday, April 04, 2003

Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
reviewed by The Economist
Applebaum revisits the West's distinction between communist and Nazi brutality, a topic inadequately and self-indulgently covered by Martin Amis in Koba the Dread. Westerns are definitely more disdainful of communism now, but they don't treat it with the visceral repulsion that they do Nazism. Perhaps it's because there were no gas chambers and victims merely worked themselves to death, so it was a sin of omission. Also, a majority of mid-20th-century Western intellectuals believed in communism and thought Stalin's brutality was accidental rather than essential to communist governments. Even now, McCarthy is probably reviled more than Stalin in the U.S. Among other forgotten holocausts: the British empire's Bengal famine that killed millions.


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