KU News Release

Sept. 16, 2011
Contact: Bart Redford, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, 785-864-4248

Renowned history professor to discuss Hitler, Stalin at Backus Lecture at KU

LAWRENCE — The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREES) at KU has announced that prominent author Dr. Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University, will present this year’s Backus Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union.

Snyder’s book, “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin,” has been hailed as “the most important work of history for years” by The Telegraph. It chronicles the enormous human toll taken in today’s Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and the eastern Baltics between 1933 and 1944. The region, which Snyder refers to as the bloodlands, suffered from the onslaught of both the Soviet and Nazi regimes, with its citizens starved, shot or gassed. He estimates the total death toll at no less than 14 million.

Discussing in meticulous detail both the German and Soviet mass killings in one work, Snyder’s “Bloodlands” has provoked controversy in both the academic world and in the public sphere.

The weekly magazine The Economist describes “Bloodlands” as “[g]ripping and comprehensive. ... Mr. Snyder’s book is revisionist history of the best kind: in spare, closely argued prose, with meticulous use of statistics, he makes the reader rethink some of the best-known episodes in Europe’s modern history.”

Snyder’s earlier works include “The Reconstruction of Nations,” “Sketches from a Secret War,” and “The Red Prince.” Copies of “Bloodlands,” as well as a few copies of his earlier books, will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

This lecture is sponsored by the KU Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. It is made possible by a Title VI Department of Education National Resource Center grant and the Oswald P. Backus Memorial Fund.

The Backus lecture is dedicated to the memory of Professor Oswald P. Backus III (1921-72), known as one of the early driving forces behind the development of KU as a national center for the study of Russia and Eastern Europe. In the 1960s, these efforts led to the formation of the Slavic and Soviet Area Studies program, now known as the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. Backus also taught history, law and Slavic and Soviet area studies during his 22 years at KU, and he is credited as having helped make KU’s Slavic library collection one of the nation’s finest.

This fund is made available through a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

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