2008 Book prize long list

The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia

Orlando Figes

Published by: Allen Lane

Drawing on a huge range of sources – letters, memoirs, conversations – Orlando Figes tells the story of how Russians tried to endure life under Stalin. Those who shaped the political system became, very frequently, its victims. Those who were its victims were frequently quite blameless. The Whisperers recreates the sort of maze in which Russians found themselves, where an unwitting wrong turn could either destroy a family or, perversely, later save it: a society in which everyone spoke in whispers – whether to protect themselves, their families, neighbours or friends – or to inform on them.