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The Secret History of Soviet Russia's Police State

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781472142399

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 23rd July 2020

Genre: Humanities / History / Regional & National History / European History

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‘[R]eadable and thoughtful . . . does an excellent job of exploring how the murderous political police in all its incarnations defined the Soviet Union, and left a poisonous legacy still with us today’
Professor Mark Galeotti, author of The Vory and A Short History of Russia

Repression, control, manipulation and elimination of enemies assisted in the establishment of the Soviet state, and helped maintain it in power, but could not, in the end, prevent its collapse.

Citizens of the West have, for the most part, been told a very simplified story of the repressive ‘totalitarian’ state that was the USSR. In fact, it was sustained by more than just policing and force. No amount of revisionist history can erase the reality of millions controlled, imprisoned and killed, but there was much more to the USSR’s one-party state than this. Whittock tells a more complex story of the combination of cruelty, co-operation and compromise required to build and run a one-party state. Much of this is the story of the role played by the secret police in creating and sustaining such a form of government, but it is much more than simply a ‘history of the secret police’. This is because the ‘police state’ which emerged (in which dissent, both real and imaginary, was undoubtedly policed, threatened and ruthlessly eliminated) was more than just the product of the arrests, interrogations, executions and imprisonments carried out by the secret police. The USSR was also made possible by a battle for hearts and minds which led millions of people to feel that they really had benefited from the system and had a stake in the new society.


On Norse Myths & Legends (written with Hannah Whittock) A terrific, detailed introduction of these wonderful stories and the pantheon of characters in them . . . their writing is vivid and lively . . . a great addition to any library.
San Francisco Book Review
On Christ: The First 2000 Years (written with Esther Whittock) Intelligently written . . . informative and insightful; an excellent summary.
Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury
On Mayflower Lives: Whittock displays a fine eye for detail.
Wall Street Journal
On Mayflower Lives: Whittock [is] an engaging writer.
Kirkus Reviews
On Trump and the Puritans (written with James Roberts): Insightful, well-written . . . Recommended reading before a dinner party.
Catholic Herald
On Trump and the Puritans: An essential and riveting read.
Julie Etchingham, journalist and broadcaster
[R]eadable and thoughtful . . . does an excellent job of exploring how the murderous political police in all its incarnations defined the Soviet Union, and left a poisonous legacy still with us today.
Professor Mark Galeotti, author of <i>The Vory</i> and <i>A Short History of Russia</i>
A classic example of how a generalist book can be actually a really good book. Whittock has got a great eye for nice vignettes, nice anecdotes that don't just entertain, but also actually illustrate wider points and precisely because he comes to it as a generalist I think he does an excellent job in distilling the big themes, the things that are important particularly in the different ages of Soviet police state and intelligence activity . . . a very readable book . . . even as something of spook wonk myself there were bits and pieces where I thought, 'Ah yes, I'd either forgotten about that or didn't know it in the first place' . . . a thoughtful piece that's done really well.
Professor Mark Galeotti, University College London, In Moscow’s Shadows podcast