According to NYU professor and Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen, half of Russia looks back to Joseph Stalin as a great leader and the other half as a genocidal murderer. This disconnect, and a longing for a stronger, more secure state, can be seen in the public debate over a memorial to the victims of the gulag, where more people died than in Hitler’s death camps.

It is in this heated context that Cohen  tells the story of the victims and their struggle to reenter society in his new book, The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin. The result of more than 30 years of research and personal experience, the work is a memoir as much as it is a history, and Cohen joins Laura in the studio to discuss the book and the ongoing struggle to reconcile the troubled period of Stalin’s rule in Russian history.

The Nation on GRIT TV is a weekly video collaboration between The Nation and GRIT TV with Laura Flanders. Watch for Monday briefings, Wednesday commentaries, weekend conversations and more at For full half-hour episodes of The Nation on GRIT TV, or local television air times visit