Until I read this book on Stalin’s draconian efforts to collectivize the Ukraine during the 20s and 30s, I had only a very broad knowledge of its long-standing trauma on its people. The author makes a solid case for why Moscow took the harsh steps it did to break the will of the kulak farmer in order to secure the supply and distribution of food in Russian cities. After all, the Ukraine was a newly acquired territory whose plains were a veritable rich hopper of food for a hungry Russians. A relative rapid conquering of the land was one thing; getting its highly independent peasantry to turn over their land to a socialist plan of dubious origin would take years of bloodshed, famine, and politicking to happen. What Applebaum does here is provide a very reliable record of how that savage experience worked itself out in small communities right across the Ukraine for years to come. No heroes here as Stalin was prepared to commit genocide to enforce his will, while hundreds of thousands of fairly well-off peasants refused to yield, to the point of death or exile, to what they perceived as a Jewish conspiracy coming directly from the Kremlin. No wonder many Ukrainians openly welcomed the Nazism when they invaded in 1941. Not a pleasant read but one that shows what can tragically happen when people try to enforce political ideology such as Pol Pot’s maniacal efforts to remake Cambodia in 1979.