Explore Histories of Everyday Life in Totalitarian Regimes through first-hand accounts and fictional works from the twentieth century.

4 min read

Posted on February 22, 2016


Guided by a five-person advisory board of distinguished scholars, Histories of Everyday Life in Totalitarian Regimes spans multiple disciplines, including history, literature and language.  Examine what life was like during the twentieth century under totalitarian rule. This set holds a wealth of information for various college courses and also high school teachers encouraging the analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Learn more about Histories of Everyday Life in Totalitarian Regimes with Editor-in-chief Peter Fritzsche, PhD., as he introduces the series’ distinctive approach.


The Scope

This new three-volume title in St. James Press’s award-winning Literature of Society series explores daily life in such totalitarian dictatorships as Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, China under Mao, and North Korea. Two hundred entries focus on compelling personal histories detailing the experiences of individuals in these regimes, conveyed in memoirs, autobiographies, diaries, letters, and other first-hand accounts. An additional 100 entries further elucidate life in totalitarian regimes by exploring works of fiction dedicated to the topic. Perspectives from both the rulers and the ruled, and from different age groups and occupations, offer insight into social, cultural, political, and economic conditions. The attractive design features approximately 250 images and 50 maps and graphics.


 Totalitarian Image 1


The Impact

This work goes to the heart of both the terror sparked by totalitarian ambitions and their fascination and appeal, offering perspectives that broaden readers’ horizons and that may prompt them to reinterpret their views. Orwell wrote 1984 with real historical totalitarian regimes in mind (Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia), but also with a suspicion that totalitarian practices such as conformity and group think could sprout in non-totalitarian societies such as our own. In this distinctive resource, rather than looking to the manifestos written by those in power, the regimes are examined through the transcripts of everyday life—memoirs, diaries, fantasies, humor, and the like.


Totalitarian Image 2


The Need

Publications on totalitarianism often focus on the state regime and its rulers. Few resources offer a view that illustrates totalitarianism’s reach into the everyday experiences of individuals living under the rule of the regimes.


The Difference

The significant innovation of this title is its range — its willingness to look at totalitarian-like situations in non-totalitarian settings, and its understanding that totalitarian regimes enjoyed some legitimacy: they mobilized and enthused constituents in ways we often overlook. Representation of multiple disciplines assures a thorough treatment that goes beyond the Cold War perspectives and rhetoric that saw the term “totalitarian” come into vogue.


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The Contributors

A five-person advisory board of distinguished scholars guided this project’s development.

Peter Fritzsche, PhD., is a professor of History, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Illinois. He is the author of The Turbulent World of Franz Göll: An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century (Belknap of Harvard UP, 2011) and Life and Death in the Third Reich (Belknap P of Harvard UP, 2008).



Histories of Everyday Life in Totalitarian Regimes, is best viewed on our user tested, award-winning platform, GVRL. GVRL gives researchers what they need with:

  • Integrated Google Tools: Once logged in, users can easily share and download articles—including their highlights and notes—using Google Apps for Education tools that include Gmail, Classroom, Drive, Docs, and more.
  • Mobile optimized: eBook collections are searchable on any device, 24/7.
  • No checkouts or holds and unlimited access: You can purchase just one copy everyone can access.
  • Translation on-demand: Text translation to 23 languages and platform translation in 34 languages.
  • Highlights and notes: Users can highlight important text, add notes, and print, save, or share to Google Drive, their PC, or mobile device.
  • Citation tools: Automatically generates APA and MLA citations.
  • ReadSpeaker: Text-to-speech technology lets users hear the article read out loud and download the audio file.


This title is available in print or eBook format on GVRL— the research-optimized, mobile accessible platform. Request a Quote Today!


*Banner Photo Caption: Alexander Solzhenitsyn as a prisoner. He was sentenced to eight years in the Gulag under Stalin and won the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature for his works detailing life in the forced labor camps.

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