The Whisperers: Book summary and reviews of The Whisperers by Orlando Figes

The Whisperers

Private Life in Stalin's Russia

by Orlando Figes

The Whisperers

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Book Summary

Moving from the Revolution of 1917 to the death of Stalin and beyond, Orlando Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family or, perversely, end up saving it. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrest as a case of mistaken identity; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.A vast panoramic portrait of a society in which everyone spoke in whispers - whether to protect their families and friends, or to inform upon them - The Whisperers is a gripping account of lives lived in impossible times.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. By seamlessly integrating the political, cultural and social with the stories of particular people and families, Figes retells all of Soviet history and enlarges our understanding of it." - Publishers Weekly.

"Figes's sociological approach explains much about these evils and how Russia fell under a complicit, fearful silence. Lucid, thorough and essential to understanding Stalinist society." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Orlando Figes Author Biography

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Born in London in 1959, he graduated with a Double-Starred First from Cambridge University. He is the author of many books on Russian history, including A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924, which in 1997 received the Wolfson Prize, the NCR Book Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, the Longman/History Today Book Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (2002) was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize.

His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

Link to Orlando Figes's Website

Name Pronunciation
Orlando Figes: FY-jeez

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