Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler

Stalin's Secret Police, Rupert Butler

A history of the CHEKA, OGPU, NKVD, SMERSH & KGB: 1917-1991

I'm not sure I agree with the title of this book. The text actually covers the entire history of the Soviet Union, not just Stalin's period in power, so we get the rise to power, the Civil War and Lenin's own repressions, and the post-war and Cold War periods. I'm also not sure secret police is really the right name - it's quite clear that many of the activities of the organisations involved were fairly public, so political or ideological police might be a more accurate title.

What we end up with is a short history of the repressive elements of the Soviet regime, both within the Soviet Union and in the wider world (mainly the post-war Communist Block). The focus is more on what the various organisations did, and their position within the Soviet State, than on how they were organised or worked, perhaps inevitable in a book covering such a wide topic. Some of these organisations grew to vast size, especially during the Second World War, and inflicted misery on countless millions across the Communist Block. A focus on a shorter time span would probably have been a good idea, allowing for a more detailed analysis of some of the organisations involved, but this is still a useful but rather grim account of one of history's darker corners.

Chapters
1 - Blueprint for Terror
2 - Downfall of a Dynasty
3 - Road to Total Power
4 - A Highly Convenient Murder
5 - Deportations at Daybreak
6 - Soviet Traitors
7 - Iron Empire
8 - The KGB

Author: Rupert Butler
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 192
Publisher: Amber
Year: 2015


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