I loved this book as it is a sharp and shocking insight into Russia history that is extremely well written and informative
Every now and again I need to be shocked by history and while I have read a lot of books on this period in history and the terror of Stalin, The Whisperers has something entirely different to offer as it tells the accounts of the the loved ones left behind after their husbands wife's mothers or fathers have been informed on and either shot or sent to the Gulag.
The Whisperers draws on hundreds of family archives (letters, diaries, personal papers and memoirs and photographs) concealed by the survivors of the Stalin Terror in secret drawers and under mattresses across Russia. In each family extensive interviews were carried out with the oldest members to bring about the many many important and heart breaking accounts of ordinary family's who survived through Stalin's reign of terror.
I had a hard copy edition from my local library and at just under 750 pages is quite a slow but compelling read and while most memoirs or biographies of the survivors of Stalin's Great Terror concentrate on those who were imprisoned or killed, the Whisperers gives us an intimate look at the devastation experienced by the family members left behind. While numerous family accounts are catalogued in the book, each account is only a few pages long and therefore the reader only learns what is necessary for that particular account and family and yet some of the family stories are so memorable and heartbreaking that I will have a difficulty time leaving them behind. The book has a vast amount of photographs and it was nice to be able to put faces to some of the people concerned. There is also a terrific introduction at the beginning of the book which I found so informative and helpful.
I am aware that there was controversary surrounding this book when it was published but it did not affect my reading of this book.
I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy Russian history but be warned this is a long and detailed book and quite a slow read.
This was my first Library book as I only joined my local Library last month for research I was doing and while there I saw this book in the history section and knew it was right up my street. Having said that half ways through the book I ordered a copy as really want this one for my book shelf.