Publisher Weekly - Best Books of 2012

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Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (2012)

Written by Anne Applebaum

In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated.

Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain. (Copyright © Doubleday/Random House. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate. She is also the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London, where she runs projects on political and economic transition.

Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked as the Foreign and Deputy Editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the Political Editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at several British newspapers, including the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs.  From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine.

Her first book, Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe, described a journey through Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus, then on the verge of independence.

Her book, Gulag: A History (2003) and won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004. The book narrates the history of the Soviet concentration camps system and describes daily life in the camps, making extensive use of recently opened Russian archives, as well as memoirs and interviews. Gulag: A History  has appeared in more than two dozen translations, including all major European languages.

Over the years, her writing has also appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, the New Republic, The National Review, The New Statesman, The Independent, The Guardian, Prospect, Commentaire, Die Welt, Cicero, Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik, and The Times Literary Supplement, as well as in several anthologies. The Washington Post/Slate column appears in newspapers across the US and around the world. She has also lectured at Yale and Columbia Universities; the University of Heidelberg; the University of Zurich; the Humboldt University in Berlin; and Lafayette, Davidson, and Williams Colleges, among many others.

Anne Applebaum was born in Washington, DC in 1964. After graduating from Yale University, she was a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics and St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Her husband, Radoslaw Sikorski, is a Polish politician and writer. They have two children, Alexander and Tadeusz.

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