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A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
Japan at War: An Oral History
Haruko Taya Cook, Theodore F. Cook
Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin
Leon Uris
Falling Free (Vorkosigan Saga, #4)
Lois McMaster Bujold
Century Rain
Alastair Reynolds
The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
Caroline Alexander
Rite of Passage
Alexei Panshin
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
Laurence Bergreen
The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad
Harrison E. Salisbury
The Forsaken: From The Great Depression To The Gulags: Hope And Betrayal In Stalin's Russia
Tim Tzouliadis
The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 - Edward E. Ericson Jr., Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn One of my all time favorites.

One of the accounts from the book that still makes me laugh (you read that right, though I shouldn't really) is:

A political meeting was going on with about 1000 - 2000 people present in the hall somewhere in USSR (I can't recall the exact location and time of the event). Now the desiderata for survival in Stalin era was that everyone should stand up and clap their hands furiously at the mention of his name. Now, you don't want to be the one to stop clapping first. This might suggest that you oppose Comrade Stalin (how dare you, O ye of feeble bourgeois mentality).

So, at this assembly someone inevitably mentioned Stalin's name. Right at that exact moment the whole congregation stood up and began to clap without forgetting to put a beaming stupid smile on their faces. Now you can't be sure that if Cheka agents are watching you at that moment or not. And moreover, you cannot stop clapping before your neighbor does, as he/she might inform on you. So this went on for 8 minutes (Now I tried clapping for 10 seconds myself and came to the conclusion that you clap twice in a second if you are doing it with gusto - fake or genuine). So they battered their hands together for at least 900 times.

Now the highest ranking local member of the Party at the meeting decided that this was getting ridiculous even by then Soviet Standards. He thought that 8 minutes of clapping and smiling was enough for showing their loyalty for a singular mention of Comrade Stalin's name. So he slowly stopped clapping and sat down. The congregation took no more than half a second to do likewise following his lead. Nobody spoke anything about the event in the concluding hours of the meeting. (But I am pretty much sure that everybody made certain that they didn't mention Stalin's name again for rest of the evening).

Next day, the Party member was arrested and never heard from again.


This book would have been comical if it would have been a work of fiction rather than non-fiction. But alas, that is not the case which makes it a sad sad collection of numerous accounts of human suffering under Soviet tyranny.