All posts tagged: 120th anniversary of his birth

The Books Briefing: History Scares Authoritarians

The Books Briefing: History Scares Authoritarians

A new book looks at the “underground historians” of China who are resurfacing moments from the past that authorities would prefer be forgotten. Artur Abramiv / Getty September 29, 2023, 12 PM ET This is an edition of the revamped Books Briefing, our editors’ weekly guide to the best in books. Sign up for it here. For many who were purged during Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union, one erasure followed another. After being sent to the Gulag (if they weren’t shot in the basement of the Lubyanka building), the ousted person would suffer the further indignity of having their face crosshatched with frantic pen marks to make them disappear from family albums. They couldn’t exist in history anymore. Stalin’s greatest rivals were erased on a wide scale too: Leon Trotsky’s image, for example, was airbrushed out of official photos. Control over the historical record has always been crucial for authoritarian regimes. In Russia, this is true all over again, and textbooks are rewriting the history of the war in Ukraine in real time. In …