The most heinous Soviet crimes – the Red Terror, brutal collectivization, the Great Famine, the Gulag, Stalin's Great Terror, mass deportations, and other atrocities – were treated in the West as a controversial topic. With the Cold War dichotomy of Western democracy versus Soviet communism deeply imprinted in our minds, we are not always aware that these crimes were very often questioned, dismissed, denied, sometimes rationalized, and even outright glorified in the Western world. Facing a choice of whom to believe –the survivors or Soviet propaganda– many Western opinion leaders chose in favor of Soviet propaganda. Even those who did not believe it behaved sometimes as if they did.
Blissful Blindness explores Western reactions (and lack thereof) to Soviet crimes from the Bolshevik revolution to the collapse of Soviet communism in order to understand ideological, political, economic, cultural, personal, and other motivations behind this puzzling phenomenon of willful ignorance. But the significance of Dariusz Tolczyk's book reaches beyond its direct historical focus. Written for audiences not limited to scholars and specialists, this book not only opens one's eyes to rarely examined aspects of the twentieth century but also helps one see how astonishingly relevant this topic is in our contemporary world.
Dariusz Tołczyk is professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Virginia. His books include See No Evil: Literary Cover-Ups and Discoveries of the Soviet Camp Experience and Gułag w oczach Zachodu [The Gulag under Western eyes].
"Inasmuch as we live in an age of historical amnesia, this book seeks to critically assess how and in what ways the crimes of the Soviet period were absolved or denied or abetted by Western political analysts, journalists, political actors of the Right and the Left, fellow travelers, members and non-members of the Communist parties."—George O. Liber, author of Total Wars and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1914-1954