|Product Details |
Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
In Stalinist Russia, it was commonplace for Soviet history to be rewritten with inconvenient participants removed--often men or women who had aided the Communist Revolution in the early days and then had somehow fallen afoul of Stalin himself. In The Commissar Vanishes, English art historian David King assembles an impressive body of photographs and artwork that shows the process whereby a hero could overnight be made into villain. "The physical eradication of Stalin's political opponents at the hands of the secret police was swiftly followed by their obliteration from all forms of pictorial existence," King rightly notes: in one noteworthy sequence reproduced on the cover, a photograph of Stalin with three revolutionary leaders is airbrushed and cropped and clipped until, one by one, those leaders disappear and only Stalin is left--conveying the message that Stalin carried the Russian Revolution by himself. Another photograph from the 1920s depicts a meeting of dozens of trade-union and Bolshevik leaders; by the late 1930s, all but a handful of them had been murdered at Stalin's orders. King's work restores some of these men and women to history and illustrates the essential inhumanity of totalitarian thought. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The Wall Street Journal, Joshua Rubenstein
The Commissar Vanishes ... provides vivid, tragic and at times comic evidence of the dictator's determination to manipulate even his country's memory.... As David King amply demonstrates, Stalin taught us how to make a photograph lie. Drawing on an extensive collection of photographs, posters and paintings--Mr. King has spent 30 years "unearthing pre-falsified Soviet photographs"--the author presents a visual history of Stalin's regime. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A New York Times Notable Book, 1997.
The lavishly illustrated and often darkly hilarious retelling of Soviet history through the doctored photographs under Stalin.
The Commissar Vanishes has been hailed as a brilliant, indispensable record of an era.
The Commissar Vanishes offers a unique and chilling look at how one man--Joseph Stalin--manipulated the science of photography to advance his own political career and erase the memory of his victims. Over the past thirty years David King has assembled the world's largest archive of doctored Soviet photographs, the best of which appear here, in a book Tatyana Tolstaya, in The New York Review of Books, called "an extraordinary, incomparable volume." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.