Books: The War Against the Peasants the Harvest of Sorrow

In the early 1930s, Boris Pasternak and other Russian writers were officially encouraged to visit some of the Soviet Union's quarter-million newly established collective farms. Several of the writers produced the expected screeds: they marveled at the revolution wrought in the countryside and heralded a new era of joyful collective labor.

Pasternak declined to join the chorus. "What I saw could not be expressed in words," Russia's greatest modern poet recalled in an unpublished memoir. "There was such inhuman, unimaginable misery, such a terrible disaster, that it began to seem almost abstract, it would not fit within the bounds of consciousness....

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