The Harvest of Sorrow - by Robert Conquest

The Harvest of Sorrow - by Robert Conquest Civil Rights Geography Biographies

When Joseph Stalin came to power, after the death of Vladimir Lenin, he decided to force a monumental change in the way people in the Soviet Union raised crops and ran farms. 

The change was to “collectivize” all of agriculture, so that farming became a government-owned and government-managed system.

The process of change was disastrous for many “peasants,” those people about whom Russian writers like Leo Tolstoy wrote with great fondness.  It was also disastrous for millions of others - particularly in the Ukraine - where famine killed people dependant on farmers for food. 

Robert Conquest wrote this book about the collectivization of farming in the USSR.  The publisher provides more background information about it:

The Harvest of Sorrow is the first full history of one of the most horrendous human and social tragedies of our century.

As Robert Conquest shows in heart-rending detail, Stalin's plan to collectivize Soviet agriculture amounted to an unparalleled assault on the Soviet peasantry and the Ukrainian nation, resulting in a death toll higher than that suffered in World War I by all the belligerent nations combined.

Millions of men, women, and children died in Arctic exile, while millions more perished in the terror-famine of 1932-33. Then it was all over, the survivors had been forced into the new collective farms and were at last, with the products of their labors, under strict party and state control.

In the Ukraine all centers of independent national feeling had been crushed.

Conquest meticulously reconstructs the background of the tragic events: the lives and aspirations of the peasants, the Ukrainian national struggle, the motives and methods of the Communist leadership. He carefully details the fate of villages and individuals and seeks a true accounting of the death toll, suppressed in official Soviet statistics but deducible from other sources.

He describes the desperate condition of children who were left homeless and recounts the various cruelties and agonies of the man-made famine. He also shows how the West was, to a large degree, deceived about what was happening.

Like The Great Terror, Conquest's classic account of the Soviet mass purges of the late 1930s, The Harvest of Sorrow is a powerful and moving story that is also a work of authoritative scholarship.

Thanks to the publisher and Google Books, segments of this work are available for online reading.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jan 19, 2020

Media Credits

Book-cover image online, courtesy Google Books.


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