Bloodlands Book Summary - Bloodlands Book explained in key points
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Bloodlands summary

Timothy Snyder

Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

4.4 (165 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder is a historical book that explores the atrocities committed by the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe during WWII. It delves into the mass murder of 14 million civilians and the impact it had on the region's history.

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    Under Stalin's forced farm collectivization, millions of people starved to death.

    The year 1933 was a difficult one in the West, as people lost their jobs and suffered with poverty and hunger during the Great Depression. For some people in Eastern Europe, however, life was a series of crises, as government policies led to a disastrous famine and millions of deaths.

    This same year, the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, completed a five-year economic plan begun in 1928 to industrialize the mostly agrarian country. Part of this plan included the collectivization of farms.

    Collectivization policy stipulated that individual farmers must move from their small holdings to larger farms, to work the land together. Many farmers refused, so the government passed laws that gave collective farms legal advantages over smaller, private farms.

    Among other things, collective farms were granted the right to vote to take seed grain away from private farmers. Thus farmers were virtually forced to join collective farms to survive.

    The goal of collectivization was to make agriculture more efficient, but once farmers moved from their own holdings to larger collective farms, the incentives to work were less. Farm machinery at the collective farms were also outdated and faulty; what’s more, the winter of 1931 had been especially rough. Farmers weren't able to meet their quotas, and people were dying of hunger.

    But Stalin still demanded that the quotas set in his economic plan be met, refusing even by 1932 to accept that collectivization was a failure. He ordered farms that had missed quotas to hand over grain and livestock – leaving starving peasants with literally nothing to eat – to the state.

    Seed grain that farmers were saving for the following season was also seized, pushing an already precarious situation into a full-blown crisis. Particularly in the Ukraine, famine was widespread.

    By the end of 1933, an estimated 5.5 million people had died of hunger in the Soviet Union. Of those, 3.3 million alone died in Ukraine.

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    What is Bloodlands about?

    In Bloodlands (2010), author Timothy Snyder tells the tragic story of the people caught in the crossfire between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II. The victims of the “bloodlands,” or territories that after the war became the Eastern Bloc, were pushed and pulled by two ruthless powers and treated like pawns both before the conflict and afterward.

    Bloodlands Review

    Bloodlands (2010) by Timothy Snyder is a thought-provoking book that delves into the dark history of the lands near the Baltic Sea in the 20th century. Here's why this book is worth a read:

    • Packed with meticulous research and compelling analysis, it offers a comprehensive understanding of the devastating violence and mass killings that took place.
    • By exploring the overlapping territories affected by both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, the book sheds light on the complexities of this little-known chapter of history.
    • The book challenges conventional narratives, presenting a fresh perspective on the suffering endured by millions and the impact it had on world events.

    Who should read Bloodlands?

    • Historians with a particular interest in World War II
    • People interested in the modern history of Eastern Europe
    • Students of German or Russian history

    About the Author

    A professor at Yale University, Timothy Snyder specializes in European history and the Holocaust and has written several award-winning books, including The Reconstruction of Nations and The Red Prince.

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    Bloodlands FAQs 

    What is the main message of Bloodlands?

    The main message of Bloodlands is a harrowing exploration of the brutalities and atrocities committed in Eastern Europe during World War II.

    How long does it take to read Bloodlands?

    The reading time for Bloodlands varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Bloodlands a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Bloodlands is a compelling read, shedding light on a forgotten part of history and offering a sobering account of the immense human suffering.

    Who is the author of Bloodlands?

    The author of Bloodlands is Timothy Snyder.

    What to read after Bloodlands?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Bloodlands, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
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    • Questions I Am Asked About The Holocaust by Hédi Fried
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