This week on Q&A, our guest is Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Applebaum. She discusses her new historical narrative, "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956." Applebaum examines the effects of communist totalitarianism in three countries from the end of World War II to the uprisings of 1956 in the years following Stalin’s death. She focuses on East Germany, Poland and Hungary. Applebaum explains how the Soviets began creating institutions, such as the secret police, aimed at undermining civil society and increasing party control. She tells of how Stalin and the Eastern Bloc regimes made use of radio propaganda to shape popular opinion and reinforce communist ideology. She contrasts this with the frustration that communist leadership expressed behind closed doors when their economic and societal reforms didn’t achieve expected positive results. Applebaum also looks at the effects the Stalinist system had on everyday people such as shop owners and farmers. She explains how she drew upon newly opened East European archives, interviews and personal accounts which were translated for the first time. She talks about the legacy of the repressive communist system on each of these countries and shares her own experiences in the region, including the night she spent in Berlin in November of 1989, chipping at the Berlin wall with her future husband.
Anne Applebaum received a BA summa cum laude from Yale University in 1986 and was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to study at the London School of Economics where she earned her MA in international relations in 1987. She became deputy editor for the Spectator, and then foreign editor for the Evening Standard in London. She is a former member of the editorial board for The Washington Post and currently writes columns for the Post as well as for Slate. Her book, “Gulag: A History,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for nonfiction. This is her third book. Applebaum is married to Radek Sikorski, the current Foreign Minister of Poland, and divides her time between London and Warsaw. She has two children.