review of Thurston, _Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia,

Grover Furr (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 20:15:09 -0500

Last April and May we had a spirited discussion of the influence
of the communist movement on the major events of the 60s. At that time
I recall recommending Robert W. Thurston's book, then just published,
called _Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia, 1934-1941_. I said I had
known Thurston from his other writings, and had every reason to
believe his book would have some valuable research, and would help
prove the "Cold-War" anti-Stalinism so often taken uncritically, even
by those on the "left", as the truth, was largely lies.

Since then Thurston's book was trashed by Cold-Warriors in the
NYTimes Book Review, in a thoroughly dishonest way, BTW, and,
conversely, selected by the History Book Club. I read it, and found it
to be excellent in many ways, though not entirely free of anti-Stalin

Anyway, for those who don't want to immediately run out and pay
Yale University Press $30 for the book, there is a very interesting
review now on the Web. It's on the Progressive Labor Party Home Page.
I copied (by copy-and-paste, so it should be exact) the complicated
URL: it is

If this is too much, it is mentioned on the first page, which you
get to by going to simply:

and scrolling down.

Thurston's book gives more info to add to that of J. Arch Getty
and many other "Young Turks" in Soviet history, to show how mendacious
and false the image of Stalin drawn by the Cold Warriors (many on the
so-called "left" included) has been.

If we're going to assess the positive as well as the negative
lessons of the old communist movement, now defunct, it's essential not
to be blinded by Cold-War anti-Stalin lies. Thurston's book is a good
place to begin, and this review is a helpful adjunct from a left


Grover C. Furr

English Department | Phone: (201) 655-7305
Montclair State University | email:
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 |

"When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I
asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist."
--Dom Helder Camara