Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presented her new book Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine at the Innis Town Hall Theatre in Toronto on October 30, 2017.

The discussion was moderated by Marta Baziuk (Executive Director of HREC) and introductory remarks were delivered by Dr. Frank Sysyn (University of Alberta). 


Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine offers a compelling account of the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33, known as the Holodomor, in which some 4 million Ukrainians died as a result of Soviet policies in the wake of collectivization. The book is the first full history of the Holodomor since Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow, published in 1986 when Soviet archives were still off limits to researchers. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum has amassed archival evidence demonstrating that Stalin and other Soviet officials knew that mass starvation would result when they increased the grain quotas Ukrainian farmers owed to the state. She argues that the famine was part of a broader effort to put an end to Ukrainian aspirations for autonomy, coinciding with an assault on Ukrainian cultural, religious, and political elites. Applebaum has crafted a heart-wrenching narrative of these events and explains why the Holodomor is only now receiving the attention warranted by a genocidal historical event. Red Famine recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first century as Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more.

Anne Applebaum writes on history and contemporary politics in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia. She is a columnist for The Washington Post, a Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics, and a contributor to The New York Review of Books. Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked as the Foreign and Deputy Editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the Political Editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at Slate and at several British newspapers, including the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper.

Her previous books include Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, which won the 2012 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and the Duke of Westminster Medal. She is also the author of Gulag: A History, which narrates the history of the Soviet concentration camps system and describes daily life in the camps, making extensive use of recently opened Russian archives as well as memoirs and interviews. Gulag won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004.

The event was organized by the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta) and the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine (Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto).