Ivan’s War

by Russ Roberts on January 10, 2012

in Books

Just finished Ivan’s War by Catherine Merridale. It’s a chronicle of what it was like to be a soldier in the Soviet army in WWII. Spectacular book. It’s especially interesting when she talks about how Soviet propaganda affected life and emotion before, during, and after the war. Informative, moving, and written with great clarity. A triumph.

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PG January 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Chris, also look at Beavor’s Berlin: The Downfall if you have not already.

Corey January 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Propaganda is a subject I’ve been interested in lately. If you’re short for guests to interview Russ might I suggest B. R. Myers? He recently published a book on North Korean propaganda and ideology called “The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters.”

I discovered the book after listening to this interview with the author:

SmoledMan January 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm

So we’re back to anonymous commenting system. Good, because the Facebook method was going to drive away all our regulars like methinks.

Greg January 11, 2012 at 7:15 am

i hope you are not trying to undermine the scope of the russian contribution to defeat of nazi germany Russ. the russians were the ones who killed more than 90% of all nazis and they were the ones who fought the hardest battles and as a nation proved to be the bravest.

my own grandfather was heroically wounded in battle of berlin!!!

Greg Webb January 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

By signing the non-aggression pact with the Nazis, the Soviet Union also contributed to the cause of World War II. No one denies the contributions of the Russian people to winning World War II, and no one should deny their government’s contribution to its cause and the terrible suffering that the Russian people endured at the hands of socialist statists like Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Greg January 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

it is true that Russia won not because of Stalin but despite Stalin. never the less, Stalin can be considered as another obstacle that Russians faced and had to deal with on the way to victory.

Greg Webb January 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Yes, a victory that could not have been won without Adolph Hitler’s gross stupidity and a huge amount of supplies from the United States.

Dan J January 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm

And, a very harsh, cold winter…. Strategic anyone??

Greg Webb January 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

Excellent point, Dan J!

Mesa Econoguy January 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Great movie:



[Warnung: auf Deutsch]

Mesa Econoguy January 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Since Russ left the comments open again,

For Hitch (and Don):

I don’t have faith in faith
I don’t believe in belief
You can call me faithless
I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that’s faith enough for me

tomharvey January 13, 2012 at 12:48 am

I’ll bet you would really enjoy German Boy by Wolfgang Samuel, because I would describe it in the same way. It covers the end of WWII and the aftermath in Germany, both east and west. It’s powerful and gripping throughout, but for the focus of this blog, it’s especially interesting when he provides some amazing on-the-ground corroboration of many of the points in Tyler Cowen’s paper on the Marshall Plan, such as about how “the average German standard of living shot up within hours of the currency reform” in June, 1948.

Roger January 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Also highly recommended is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcasts where he did a multi-parter “Ghosts of the Ostfront”. Haunting and informative. (He charges for archived shows like these.)

Greg Webb January 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Ghosts of the Ostfront was an excellent podcast. I recommend it hightly.

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