Reviews

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich

valtova's review

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challenging emotional hopeful reflective slow-paced

5.0

ruthiella's review against another edition

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5.0

“We had a great empire—stretching from sea to sea, from beyond the Arctic to the subtropics. Where is it now? It was defeated without a bomb. Without Hiroshima. It’s been conquered by Her Majesty Salami! The good chow won! Mercedes-Benz. The people don’t need anything else, don’t even offer it to them. They don’t need it. Only bread and circuses for them! And that truly is the most important discovery of the twentieth century. The response to all of the famous humanists and Kremlin.”

I read this mostly on an e-reader which made it easy to grab quotes. But I was pulling pages and pages of quotes. And there is no one line that can summarize this work because it runs the gamut of real people and their voices, from former dissidents to former loyal communists; from those who wanted free market capitalism to those that wanted a more just version of socialism. I think it is easy to read these accounts with pity and think it represents a way of thinking completely alien to that of the first world. But hearing how one could return from the gulag and still be a faithful Stalinist made me think of all our own home grown cognitive dissonances in the U.S.; the gulf between our history and the propaganda espoused in the “American Way”.

feline_queen's review against another edition

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4.0

Preferred Voices of Chernobyl to this. Some of the stories were interesting, but a lot of them felt very similar.

catgood's review against another edition

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3.0

I think I would have a better appreciation for this book if I knew and understood more about Soviet history.

laurawhite's review

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dark informative reflective sad slow-paced

3.0

therealnani's review

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Very interesting but was taking me too long to finish, and I forgot about it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

katherinenelson03's review

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challenging informative reflective tense slow-paced

3.0

annieinthearchives's review

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challenging dark informative inspiring sad slow-paced

5.0

matttrevithick's review

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5.0

Incredible, depressing, and completely overwhelming. A haunting book nearly too heavy to bear.

dukegregory's review

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4.0

This is one of the most substantial, emotional nonfiction texts I have ever read. Something about being an American and constantly seeing anti-Soviet and anti-Communist messaging in pop culture, a perpetual product of the Cold War and the Red Scare, has me filled predisposed notions of the regime and its people.

Alexievich weaves a tapestry of regular voices. Utter normalcy becomes a powerfully evocative tool to display the hopes and dreams of such a massive population. Generational differences, ideological variance, diversity simply abounds in every story. The ghost of the Soviet Union lives on to this day in simple familial frameworks and postwar remembrances.

Spellbinding stories and recountings.