Power editing: Stalin’s blue ink

Powerful writing is all about a carefully deleted word. I  recalled this while reading the brilliant and surprising account of  Stalin as editor by Holly Case. Here is an example of a paragraph from the infamous History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) edited by the  dictator (italics indicate his insertions):

The Soviet people unanimously approved the court’s verdict—the verdict of the people annihilation of the Bukharin-Trotsky gang and passed on to next business. The Soviet land was thus purged of a dangerous gang of heinous and insidious enemies of the people, whose monstrous villainies surpassed all of the darkest crimes and most vile treason of all times and all peoples.

Stalin did not use the Delete key. He used blue ink, indistinguishable from the original writing when the manuscript was photographed for typesetting.


About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He researchers energy and environment and coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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