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Book Title: Harvest on the Don|
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Reader ratings: 6.6
The author of the book: Mikhail Sholokhov
Date of issue: 1960
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ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.57 MB
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I initially found this book after reading Atlas Shrugged and 1000+ pages of Ayn Rand's capitalist/individualist hardliner-y, I googled "book that's the opposite of Atlas Shrugged." This book was recommended and it's been sitting on myself unread for about a year and a half.
But recently, due to the current churn of world events, I've been on an all-things-Russia reading jag so I thought I'd finally check this out.
"Virgin Soil Upturned" is a novel that takes place in 1930 and focuses on the struggle of the still relatively young Soviet government in it's efforts to collectivize the farm lands of the steppes in southern part of the USSR. What makes it interesting is that it's a book written to consciously toe the party line. It's underlying current is the struggle of the noble communist organization against the backward, individualist tendencies of the stubborn remnants of Russia's rural population, those degenerate middling peasants warped and unenlightened enough to want to retain their own land and the crops that grow from it. The people that don't want to share their oxen with other farmers who won't take care of them properly, etc.
It's an interesting proposition. And it's kind of fun to see the values we champion (and Rand touts as gospel) as the antithesis of everything good and right. VSU is sort of a quaint communist collection of green acres stories from a totally foreign (at least to me) perspective.
Party doctrine and class warfare aside, is basically a warm-hearted story of an idealist coming to a backwards village and teaching it's inhabitants the right way to live under collectivization. We learn that in the 1930s most Russians in the countryside still lived in mud huts and ploughed their fields with oxen and not tractors. The industrial revolution didn't make it to the steppes till much later, evidently. There are some goofy, crusty characters and some loose and swarthy women and in the end we learn a good deal about old fashioned farming methods and everything turns out fine and the future looks bright.
The interesting thing is, about 2-3 years after the time this book is meant to take place, the holodomor occurs and somewhere between 2.4 to 12 million of these lovable village folk die as a result of forced collectivization policies. With this in mind, the book sort of reads like a happy adventure of a friendly bug traveling through Europe in the the 1300s who just so happens to be the Black Death. So ... kind of a weird vibe. But well written and interesting as an artifact of propaganda and I did learn a lot about what some people said life was like back then.
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Read information about the authorMikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people."
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