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The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 1987 : HISTORY PRIZE : On Nov. 6, The Times will award its annual Book Prizes in five categories--biography, history, fiction, poetry and current interest--along with the Robert Kirsch Award for a body of work by a writer living in or writing on the West. This week we publish excerpts from the books nominated in history. : THE HARVEST OF SORROW Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine by Robert Conquest (Oxford University Press)

October 18, 1987

Between 1929 and 1932, Stalin's Communist Party crushed the Soviet Union's peasant farmers and the Ukrainian nation by means of dispossession, the collectivization of private property and the deliberate starvation of millions.

If the peasant took (his) grain to the local nationalized mill, it would go to the government. So local artisans constructed "hand mills." When these were found, the constructor and user were arrested. . . .

With or without such implements, extraordinary "bread" was made--for example sunflower oil cake soaked in water, but with millet and buckwheat chaff, and a little rye flour to hold it together. A Soviet novelist gives us a scene in which the peasant chops up a cask which had formerly held fat and boils it to get any residue which may be in the wood. As a result, the family have the best meal they can remember.

Another tells of how "babki," a game with cattlebones, played by children from time immemorial, died out when all the old bones were "steamed in cauldrons, ground up and eaten."

Yet another tells, of a village (not in the Ukraine), that "cattle died for lack of fodder, people ate bread made from nettles, biscuits made from one weed, porridge made from another." Horse manure was eaten, partly because it often contained whole grains of wheat. Over the early winter they ate all the remaining chickens and other animals. Then they turned to dogs, and later, cats. "It was hard to catch them too. The animals had become afraid of people and their eyes were wild. People boiled them. All there was were tough veins and muscles. And from their heads they made a meat jelly."

In one village acorns were collected from under the snow, and baked into a sort of bread, sometimes with a little bran or potato peelings. A Party official said to the village Soviet, "Look at the parasites! They went digging for acorns in the snow with their bare hands--They'll do anything to get out of working."

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