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~READ EPUB ☪ Время сэконд хэнд: конец красного человека ♗ The Magnum Opus And Latest Work From Svetlana Alexievich, The Winner Of The Nobel Prize In Literature A Symphonic Oral History About The Disintegration Of The Soviet Union And The Emergence Of A New RussiaWhen The Swedish Academy Awarded Svetlana Alexievich The Nobel Prize, It Cited Her For Inventing A New Kind Of Literary Genre, Describing Her Work As A History Of Emotions A History Of The Soul Alexievich S Distinctive Documentary Style, Combining Extended Individual Monologues With A Collage Of Voices, Records The Stories Of Ordinary Women And Men Who Are Rarely Given The Opportunity To Speak, Whose Experiences Are Often Lost In The Official Histories Of The NationIn Secondhand Time, Alexievich Chronicles The Demise Of Communism Everyday Russian Citizens Recount The Past Thirty Years, Showing Us What Life Was Like During The Fall Of The Soviet Union And What It S Like To Live In The New Russia Left In Its Wake Through Interviews Spanning To , Alexievich Takes Us Behind The Propaganda And Contrived Media Accounts, Giving Us A Panoramic Portrait Of Contemporary Russia And Russians Who Still Carry Memories Of Oppression, Terror, Famine, Massacres But Also Of Pride In Their Country, Hope For The Future, And A Belief That Everyone Was Working And Fighting Together To Bring About A Utopia Here Is An Account Of Life In The Aftermath Of An Idea So Powerful It Once Dominated A Third Of The WorldA Magnificent Tapestry Of The Sorrows And Triumphs Of The Human Spirit Woven By A Master, Secondhand Time Tells The Stories That Together Make Up The True History Of A Nation Through The Voices Of Those Who Confided In Her, The Nation Writes, Alexievich Tells Us About Human Nature, About Our Dreams, Our Choices, About Good And Evil In A Word, About Ourselves This is a brilliant book about modern Russian history The author interviewed dozens of Russian citizens and documented their stories about life in the Soviet Union, and how life has been since it fell There is a helpful timeline at the front of the book, detailing events after Stalin s death in 1953, up to the rise of Putin and to armed conflicts in the Ukraine in 2014.I started reading this late last summer, before we knew that Russia had interfered with America s presidential election Even then, this book seemed so relevant to our times I m a big believer in context, and trying to understand how and why things got to their current state If you want to try and understand Vladimir Putin, you should read Secondhand Time Highly recommended.Meaningful Passage Why does this book contain so many stories of suicides instead of typical Soviets with typically Soviet life stories When it comes down to it, people end their lives for love, from fear of old age, or just out of curiosity, from a desire to come face to face with the mystery of death I sought out people who had been permanently bound to the Soviet idea, letting it penetrate them so deeply that there was no separating them The state had become their entire cosmos, blocking out everything else, even their own lives They couldn t just walk away from History, leaving it all behind and learning to live without it Today, people just want to live their lives, they don t need some great Idea This is entirely new for Russia it s unprecedented in Russian literature At heart, we re built for war We were always either fighting or preparing to fight We ve never known anything else hence our wartime psychology Even in civilian life, everything was always militarized. We sit atop the ruins of socialism like it s the aftermath of warUNLIMITED STARS One of the best books I ve ever read THE most personally touching and relevant book I ve EVER read A book that penetrates the soul of my being and explains me to myself An Autobiographical Review this book is my autobiography, and it speaks my heart better than I ever have articulated it myself many details below are personal, but they are also in the book, and what the book is aboutCommunism had an insane plan to remake the old breed of man, ancient Adam And it really worked Perhaps it was communism s only achievement Seventy plus years in the Marxist Leninist laboratory gave rise to a new man Homo sovieticus Although we now live in separate countries and speak different languages, you couldn t mistake us for anyone else We re easy to spot People who ve come out of socialism We have a special relationship with death How much can we value human life when we know that not long ago people had died by the millions We re full of hatred and superstitions All of us come from the land of the gulag and harrowing war Collectivization, dekulakization, mass deportations This was socialism, but it was also just everyday life Not sure there is any overlap of experience between a life lived under communism as it manifested in Eastern Europe vs a life lived in a capitalistic society, such as that embodied in the United States My experience has straddled both, with the transition from the former to the latter a violently, radically sudden rupture at a young and impressionable age One day, I was accompanying my mom on her daily errands through Bucharest s dilapidated landscape of empty government run stores and identically dreary blocks of state issued of course tenement housing, waiting in the 4th line of the day, for an extra handful of eggs she would receive for bringing me along Then excitedly heading home for the 30 minutes of kids TV programming offered daily of 2 or 3 hours total broadcasting, on one channel All the while, being tailed by the Securitate my father had defected and been sentenced in absentia, so we lived under constant surveillance.Seemingly the next day well You ve heard the stories of immigrant shock the vast highways, insanely stocked supermarkets supermarkets we had no such thing The variety, the diversity, the choices, the sheer mass, density, amount of STUFF And people who nonchalantly wander through it all, completely nonplussed at the fact that there are mounds of bananas everywhere and people aren t shoving each other out of the way to get to them Ok so I had had ONE banana my entire childhood smuggled into the country illegally of course To this day I m still touched surprised, just a little at how much we take bananas for granted, at least here in the DC area.Of course the stuff is only the beginning, only the surface layer that one immediately notices upon stepping off a plane into the Land of Abundance and Freedom for the first time The divergences penetrate deep into the psyche soul historical memory collective un consciousness of the people and place Everything down up to structures of thought, modes of interaction, even constructs for understanding the self ALL are different in a society that limits ALL material conditions and social acts energy, food, media, knowledge, books, speech, movement, communication vs a society that views freedom and choice as fundamental.Understanding the radical rupture created in my being by my move from Eastern Europe Romania to the US is the Holy Grail Quest of my life I was young, it s true, but you never forget It wasn t that long ago, but it s as though it happened in another era a different country That s where we left our na vet and romanticism Our trust No one wants to remember it now because it s unpleasant we ve lived through a lot of disappointment since then But who could say that nothing has changed Back then, you couldn t even bring a Bible over the border Did you forget that When I d come visit them from Moscow, I d bring my relatives in Kaluga flour and noodles as presents And they would be grateful Have you forgotten No one stands in line for sugar and soap any And you don t need a ration card to buy a coat Did you forget that No you do not forget childhood baths taken in a little pot in the middle of the living room, with mom pouring hot water heated on the stove You do not forget relatives from the country bringing you the only meat you would eat that month to this day, you do not scoff at pig feet or intestines or whatever items are too unfashionable in your new environment You do not forget Sandy Bell, the only cartoon on TV for years, 30 minutes every weekday night You do not forget salami salami, the lifeblood black market currency favorite delicacy only deli meat of communism appears on almost every other page of Secondhand Time.Because you do not forget these things, because you can never quite look at bananas in the same way as your new neighbors or new generations, because you never do overcome the cynicism and bravado you learned in diapers torn from old sheets and laundered with coarse hand made soap, because you do not forget, you don t ever fully adapt to Capitalism Or, you adapt but do not fully accept there is always a streak of nostalgia for old days of suffering, or a melancholy for the self determination needed to survive back then , or paranoia, denial, indelible, fundamental distrust of about existence, society, other people in your new environment Secondhand Time The Last of the Soviets is an oral history of this transition from full blown privation, closed off to the world communism to a or less capitalistic society Told, as always with Alexievich s work, through a complex tapestry of voices, collected over many hundreds of hours worth of interviews, The Last of the Soviets is an explosively profound rendering of the collective memory of the region, before during after revolution HIGHLY recommended for anyone interested in either modern Russia Eastern Europe, or the old USSR Eastern Europe, or the transition from communism to capitalism, or in life under totalitarianism broadly, or in the psychology of oppression and resistance.Note About Reading this in Parallel with The Fox was Ever the HunterEastern European literature speaks to me in a way that no other work can the reasons are obvious I find my heart somewhere between Alexievich and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, and was so saddened disappointed just earlier this week in my reading the first German Romanian work about the period translated into English, by Herta M ller The differences are stark While both are Nobel laureates, and both write about life under communism Alexievich s work showcases the triumphant, perhaps naively romantically melancholic, but, proud, self respecting Eastern European soul, while M ller s worlds depict pathetic creatures unable to help themselves While I wanted to throw The Fox out the window many a times I settled for calling my mother to vent in frustration , Alexievich s work is like salve to my soul, and everything I remember about the people and spirit of the region.One last personal noteFor me, this was a tremendously personally important book, because, as an immigrant emigrant, I have no grasp whatsoever of how the transition from communism to capitalism occurred for my fellow country wo men For me, it was an overnight affair one day I m in Romania, the next, in the United States Which is perhaps why, when I visit Romania now, which I tend to every year summer, it s so foreign to me This book goes a long way into filling in the gaps from my absence I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley Then I bought the book anyway when it came out no question I need a physical copy to mark up and peruse like a personal bible Obviously, all opinions are very much my own. The book Secondhand Zeit was written by Svetlana Alexiewitsch in 2013 She reports on life after the Cold War in Russia The Country is in a phase in which the Country has to find itself again.Svetlana Alexiewitsch Nobel Prize Laureate nterviewed people from different Social strata of the Nomenklatura, as well as numerous citizens of the former Soviet Union of different age groups, between the Years 1992 and 2012.The emancipated improvement in life conditions did not simply occur.Important in advance This book requires endurance and readiness to read about others suffering. There were new rules if you have money you count no money you are nothing Who cares if you have read all Hegel I made a rule one day that every time, whenever I get time to visit any book fair, I ll purchase at least one non fiction and that non fiction must fulfill three criteria First, its cover should be extremely charming, second, it should be bulky, and third, it must be historical A world book fair was organized in my city last month, I rigorously followed the rule and the book that got qualified for me this year was this one Last time my choice was Mao The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and prior to that it was India After Gandhi The History of the World s Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha Coincidently I found a great amount of similarity in the writing of these three writers All three have written their historical accounts in a very alluring and captivating manner, these writers are able to give you a sort of beguiling feel of reading a non fiction, very much like a fiction, and at the same time they perfect your understanding of history.Coming back to this book of Svetlana Alexivitch, This book unleashed the knots of my mind My understanding about the real life of Soviet people increased multi fold and I felt a peculiar sort of connectivity with the people there We all are same in our desires and limitations it does not matter which part of globe, we reside in, and which kind of political system we are inflicted upon, by the authoritiesOur country was suddenly covered in banks and billboards A new breed of goods appeared Instead of crummy boots and frumpy dresses, we finally got the stuff we d always dreamed of blue jeans, winter coats, lingerie, and descent crockery everything bright and beautiful Our old soviet stuff was grey, ascetic, and looked as if it had been manufactured in war timeThis book is written in hybrid style by the author mixture of a kind of reportage and a kind of documentary on paper She is a lifelong journalist and her writing has all those flavors of journalism Reports Records Interviews FactsQuest for truth She has recorded the voices of housewives, common men, Gulag survivors and ex communist post holders Though she has not put forward her own opinion for the sake of conveying a message of a writer in this book, still she has her writerly craft giving voice to the unknown and lost sentiments It is said that Alexivitch is anything but a simple recorder of found voices She has a writerly voice of her own with great style and authority Alexievich strongly believes that people who were born in the USSR and those born after its fall in 1991 come from different planets She has recorded some very agonizing and torturous accounts and stories of people in their own words from these periods Russian novels don t teach you how to become successful How to get rich Oblomov lies on his couch, Chekov s protagonists drink tea and complain about their lives She falls silent There is a famous Chinese curse May you live in interesting time Few of us remained unchanged Descent people seem to have disappeared Now its teeth and elbow everywhereI am very happy that I read this book This is an awesome and phenomenal work by this Nobel Laureate I was eleven or perhaps twelve years old when I learned that ignorance is no excuse for anything That revelation completely changed the way I viewed the world I ran to my parents, separately, I remember, my eyes wide I said to each of them, Ignorance is no excuse It won t save anyone from the repercussions of whatever they are ignorant of You can die as a result of ignorance or you can participate in something evil as a result of ignorance.As I remember it, my parents did not say anything There is much I would think as a result of my eleven year old coming to me with such a revelation, and I am not sure I would know what to respond, either But it was a big moment, and it came from reading a novel Now I wonder which novel gave me such an insight, but I cannot remember I was an ordinary schoolgirl, with no special access to literature I read too much, my sisters said, and most of them were bodice rippers This book reminds me of that moment of realization The insights into what man is and how he responds to national, political, and personal trauma come fast and hard in this work Alexievich begins by recording voices from the Gorbachev years Those were wonderful, na ve years Both for and against Gorbachev, the voices record people s naivet They had an excuse, the lack of reliable, comprehensive news coverage one of them, but it would not save them from their future nor their past.There is simply nothing to compare with this fabulous reconstruction of the lives of people under communism and after Alexievich records the stories of people under the dictatorship of the people, and there is so much nuance, so much pain, fear, crazy love, faith, and delusion tied in with people s understanding of those years that it becomes as clear a record of what humanity is that we have Changing the nature of man was on the table From the sounds of some voices, it succeeded on every measure But if nature can be changed, we question again what nature is Naomi Klein tells us man is not hopelessly greedy but it is hard to see that when greed is rewarded and protected The Soviet Union, Russia, has gone through enormous social upheaval in the last one hundred years, and Alexievich manages to give us a window through which we can begin to see what happened to people.Among the voices are ordinary folk, high Kremlin officials, members of the brigades who spent their days shooting enemies of the people We see what they were thinking at the time and what they are thinking now Because governance the world over has many similarities, constraints, and imperatives, everyone who can read should see how governance actually plays out, no matter what we believe These people are not so different from us They are just people after all All that they did, all they experienced, can happen to us It is necessary to be vigilant, to be aware, so that we do not, inadvertently, give evil a chance to thrive Alexievich has taken memory and made literature For me, it will be one of the most meaningful books I have ever come across.I want to point everyone to Ilse s review of this title She does such a lovely job of articulating what Alexievich managed to accomplish. Way back in the early 90s, I remember my parents entertaining some young Russians, who were work colleagues of my maths professor father I remember being quite struck by how little respect they had for Mikhail Gorbachev, who was still being hailed as a visionary leader in the West This monumental book goes some way to explaining these feelings, along with many other aspects of life in the former Soviet Union, both before and in the 20 years after the fall of the Communist regime.Alexievich is a Nobel prize winning oral historian from Belarus who collects the testimony of ordinary people throughout the former Union One word which occurs with great frequency is sovok, a disparaging slang term used to describe those who retained nostalgic feelings about the Soviet regime The book is full of heartbreaking personal stories, that demonstrate how little control many people had over their lives, as their savings became worthless and many of the country s assets were plundered by those who were stronger and ruthless There are also many harsh accounts of the barbarity with which nationalism and ethnic conflicts arose in many parts of the former union.Alexievich largely keeps her own perspective silent her mastery is in the way she weaves a complex tapestry of so many disparate individual voices. 3.5 I spent the last month reading this, not because it didn t interest me, it did, but because of the format Interviews with those who live in Russia from Stalin to I believe 2012 Was just too much for me to read in one sitting, so I read a few each night before bed A very worthy book, important to hear from those who actually lived thought these times Some of this was brutal, the gulags, Siberia, the fear but many also missed the days of Communism, missed life under Stalin, saw him as a hero So, we get a mixed view of life under Communism and life after intended Very interesting Well presented, pertinent responses, the author did a good job assembling these pieces, interviews Russia has such a long and complicated history, so much in their way of life not easy to understand but books like these open our eyes to the way ordinary Russians view their past and present as well as the turmoil, political and economical Glad I read this. There s wealth, but there s less strength the binding idea doesn t exist any everything has turned soft, everything is rotten, and people are rotten Lebedev, The IdiotRussia is a gas station masquerading as a country Senator John McCainI once read a comment that Alexievich was an unusual candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature because her work was in journalism, not in fiction She recorded transcribed what other people said and felt This is a dismissal of her work, as it takes a supreme effort to letting other people reveal their innermost feelings and letting the words fall out Alexievich is not only transcribing, she allows people to say things they might only tell their spouses, perhaps their children, or else only God A recurrent theme in her work is the recognition of trauma a sense of feeling overwhelmed with emotions or experiences that take a lifetime to understand, much less to deal with She transmits the stories of women during the second world war, soldiers during the invasion of Afghanistan, rescue workers and civilians during the Chernobyl disaster, and now the fall of the Soviet Union.This volume presents some twenty years of interviews from the 1990s to the 2010s about reactions to the fall of the Soviet Union and what comes after The fall of the Soviet Union was not only a political change, it implied the collapse of a grand social experiment the attempt to build a new kind of civilization and create a new kind of person, devoted to their ideology and the cause A formal term might have been Homo Sovieticus, but the Russian slang term is sovoks people who were molded by Soviet civilization and cling to it It is a form of nostalgia, where political devotion replaced religious faith And when that system collapsed in the 1990s, both true believers and dissidents tossed into the void From my observation, these reactions were not uniform Take, for example, the generational gap To the oldest generation, Stalin was a living god Alexievich finds some veterans of the Red Army who hate that the fall of the Soviet Union meant a loss of all of their sacrifices after the German invasion For those who lived through the Khrushchev thaw or Brezhnev s stagnation , that s another story entirely And the youngest ones, those who are in their twenties now and were born after the Soviet Union fell, they just see Stalin as an icon or a picture on the wall or a distant memory Some want Communism back, because of what it represented because of a different purpose for the future There is a recurrent theme of the fear of terrorism and lack of security The storming of the White House was only one thing but the Chechen Wars or Abkhazia as well Terrorism is a recurring fear Any American alive then can tell you of the waves of fear and patriotism which came after 9 11 Or in recent cases what happened in London, Paris, Brussels There is confusion and fear and cries for revenge, eye for an eye Moscow alone was hit 8 times since 2001 What does that imply A need for order, perhaps, or security, wherever that comes from, from a strongman who will make all these things go away, no matter what belief he has That s part of it Among other things, it leads to plenty of blame and resentment There was a brief moment of hope for the future in the early 1990s, but that was followed by years of economic deprivation This leads to resentment of the outside world, which is still very rich The Chinese, for example There is talk of conspiratorial forces, of the state department and Hillary Clinton Not the CIA Many people hate criminals, some hate corruption, but others hate liberals and financiers, and the Chicago School of Economics Of course, talk of hating finance leads to anti Semitism Speaking of which, there are flareups of ethnic hatred There is one story of a woman who feared everyone after an attack on the metro She finds the story of a Tajik worker who was beat up by a gang of toughs When he reported this to a police officer, they said what bad police officers usually think Good They wanted to make like tough for these minorities so that they d leave In the epigraph for my review, I quoted Lebedev from the Idiot, but anyone who has read the book knows that he is no real source of moral strength he is one of the most rotten characters of the whole book He s a drunken lout who knows things are bad, but plays along anyway for his own benefit These are the people who benefit from corruption Their stories are here too What Alexievich does is what is missing from literature, and what is missing from history It is the story of human beings who are caught up in the broad scope of history, who hang on against the currents of events Literature, in this sense, is a reflection of the human experience, picking up the broken pieces and showing the multitude of perspectives from it It reminds me of another piece from Dostoyevsky, from Demons We are two creatures who have met in boundless infinity for the last time in the world So drop that tone and speak like a human being At least once, speak with a human voice The circling, repetitive, voices choked with sobs, a voice lost in thought that is a human voice That is what Alexievich does. Wind of Change I follow the MoskvaDown to Gorky ParkListening to the wind of change Scorpions, Wind of Change, 1990.Before giving my brief thoughts, a HUGE thanks to goodreads friend Ioana, a native Romanian now in the U.S., whose review is must read She s a brilliant writer who lived under Communist rule and terror of Nicolae Ceau escu Her review is the best I ve read on Goodreads for any book a pure concerto of the personally poetic and the pellucidly profound Ioana s review After reading it, I immediately got this.I must add here a personal note that one of my first crushes and initial recognition of the dry mouth, flushness of my face and tingling near my stomach was at 11 years old watching Romanian gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci, then 13, competing in the 1976 Summer Olympics Excuse me, my 11 year old self needs a glass of water.Okay, Thanks for your patience Secondhand Time The Last of the Soviets was a brass knuckles punch to my arrogant American belief that all Russians and Eastern Europeans welcomed capitalism with open arms This is the incinerating oral history of the the ursine Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc from 1991, the time of perestroika, until 2012 The author is Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 Nobel Laureate in Literature from Belarusia It was published originally in 2013, but translated into English only this year The oral history is split into two different periods first from 1991 to 2001 as the transition from Communism was occurring, and from 2002 2012, which shows, I think, the reverberations of the transformation and transition This book hits full throttle from page 1 and is unrelenting until the last page I ve never read anything like it It s a raw raising of the Iron Curtain to stories of the violence, the attempt to overthrow Gorbachev by the old line communists, suicides and rapes The first part was taken down while some of the old communists who lived under Stalin were still alive and includes a few jarring jeremiads to solidarity, Lenin, Stalin, and the communistic ideal of heaven on earth An example of one of the old Bolsheviks You have your own utopia The market Market heaven The market will make everyone happy Pure fantasy The streets are filled with gangsters in magenta blazers, gold chains hanging down to their bellies Caricatures of capitalism A farce Instead of the dictatorship or the proletariat, it s the law of the jungle Devour the ones weaker than you and bow down to the ones who are stronger Both parts tell of all the problems in the transition without any planning People starving Former Communist apparatchiks who were esteemed scientists who now are unemployed and homeless Complete overhauls to a way of living from the overnight move from communism to a capitalism based economy I plan to read this again because there was so much to digest the author calls this form of oral history snatches of street noise and kitchen conversations I was shocked, for example, to learn of how much the ones interviewed hate Gorbachev now, though they supported him in the early 1990s.This was like a Thunderbolt thrown into my routine reading A stunning book that should probably be required reading in any history civilization type of course I saw people on from the U.S giving this 2 stars on the assumption that they thought the author was biased and showing only the negatives I posted a question asking for the basis for this assumption, given that he d probably never been to Russia or talked to anyone from there or even studied Russian history or economics Of course, no response was posted.