As a global phenomenon, the scale and character of communism is only now coming into focus. The opening of formerly inaccessible archives and landmark books such as The Black Book of Communism
have helped to establish empirically the extent and brutality of Communist totalitarianism. But what about Communist terror as it was personally experienced by the dissidents, the so-called obstructionists who stood in the way of the Communists’ efforts to create the new man of the socialist utopia?
From the Gulag to the Killing Fields is another landmark volumeand the only one of its kind. Edited by renowned scholar of communism Paul Hollander, it gathers together more than forty dramatic personal memoirs of Communist violence and repression from political prisoners across the globe. From these compelling accounts several distinctive features of Communist political violence can be discerned. The most important, argues Hollander, is that communism was "violence with a higher purpose"that is, it was devised and undertaken to create a historically superior social system that would not only abolish scarcity, exploitation, and inequality, but would also create a new and unique sense of community, social solidarity, and personal fulfillment.
Nothing, of course, was allowed to stand in the way of this effort to radically and totally transform the human conditionleast of all human beings. But, as Anne Applebaum notes in her foreword, human nature persisted: "Every person who entered the camps discovered qualities in themselves, both good and evil, that they hadn’t previously known they had. Ultimately, that self-discovery is the true subject of most camp memoirs, and the true subject of this book."
What They're Saying...
"We all owe an enormous debt to Paul Hollander…These testimonies to the human capacity for murderous madness must never be forgotten if we are to reduce the chances of such crimes being committed in the future."
— First Things
“This book should be required reading on our campuses in courses on modern history, political science, sociology, and psychology. If we are to have courses on the Holocaust—as we should and do—then surely they ought to include the ghastly story documented in Hollander’s searing book.”
— Eugene D. Genovese
“Fascinating reports of systematic evil at work: evil without conscience, in the name of necessity, and for the making of Communist man. Thanks to Paul Hollander’s able editing, we have access to an indispensable experience for the understanding of our times.”
— Harvey C. Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University
“No scholar has done more than Paul Hollander to challenge the view that mass repression of ordinary citizens in communist states has been less widespread or was more morally justified than the Nazi holocaust. This impressive collection of personal accounts by victims of state political violence from all regions of what was once the communist bloc, and Hollander’s thoughtful introductory essay, should finally convince skeptics that mass victimization in communist societies has been no less systemic and evil than the horrors of Naziism.”
— Prof. Martin K. Whyte, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
"This is an emotionally charged saga of sufferings and humiliation of those who survived, who went through the system of forced labor in the former USSR and its allies, and who learned how this system was designed to turn its inmates into slaves. There is a strong message in Paul Hollander's book for our contemporaries."
— Oleg D. Kalugin, former KGB Major General, author of The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West
"The psychological and material techniques of communist oppression are not, of course, a secret…But for scope, comprehensiveness, and direct emotional power, no document of those techniques surpasses From the Guglag to the Killing Fields."
— The New York Sun
"An excellent new book, Paul Hollander has assembled an impressive collection of concentration camp memoirs by people who were among the millions of 'state enemies' of communism—from the Soviet gulag, through Eastern Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa."
— Religion & Liberty
"If moral clarity graced our times, the publication of Paul Hollander's comprehensive compilation of first-hand accounts by former communist victims, From the Gulag to the Killing Fields, would elicit a collective shudder of horror and sorrow… The serious reader will want a deeper understanding of how otherwise intelligent human beings become mesmerized by utopian thinking."
— The National Interest
"This Collection of fine and irrefutable personal recollections of suffering under a worldwide set of Marxist-Leninist autocracies (with a first rate comprehensive introduction by Paul Hollander) shows, as is still needed, how gross inhumanities were inflicted in the service of what turned out to be disastrously untenable justifications."
— Robert Conquest, Author of, The Harvest of Sorrow : Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine and The Great Terror : A Reassessment
"Despite all the available evidence, our contemporaries are likely to continue to judge Communism as much by its utopian and egalitarian promises as by its all-too-deadly consequences. It is the task of moral and political philosophy—chastened and informed by the tragic events of the age—to show that 'the violence of higher purpose' inevitably entails a frontal assault on the bodies and souls of men. Paul Hollander’s indefatigable scholarly efforts are a most welcome contribution to such an effort."
— Daniel Mahoney, professor of Politics at Assumption College
"From the Gulag to the Killing Fields is a painful book to read, but a needed reminder of a history now being forgotten, partly because it was often ignored—and one that, in China, North Korea, and other countries, is still with us."