My brother Evgeni Yakovlovich used to say that the decisive part in the subjection of the intelligentsia was played not by terror and bribery (though, God knows, there was enough of both), but by the word “Revolution,” which none of them could bear to give up. It is a word to which whole nations have succumbed, and its force was such that one wonders why our rulers still needed prisons and capital punishment.
—Nadezhda Mandelshtam, in
Hope Against Hope
Why is it that nearly eighty years after the Bolshevik Revolution—an event that did more to shape the history of this century than any other—we are still so reluctant to come to terms with the full scale of the moral horrors that followed in its wake? Why is it that we rarely, if ever, speak of a Soviet holocaust? After all, the brute outlines of this...