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Modernization from the Other Shore
by David C. ENGERMAN
Harvard University Press, 2003
eISBN: 978-0-674-03652-9 | Cloth: 978-0-674-01151-9
Library of Congress Classification HC335.E636 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 338.947009034


From the late nineteenth century to the eve of World War II, America's experts on Russia watched as Russia and the Soviet Union embarked on a course of rapid industrialization. Captivated by the idea of modernization, diplomats, journalists, and scholars across the political spectrum rationalized the enormous human cost of this path to progress. In a fascinating examination of this crucial era, David Engerman underscores the key role economic development played in America's understanding of Russia and explores its profound effects on U.S. policy.

American intellectuals from George Kennan to Samuel Harper to Calvin Hoover understood Russian events in terms of national character. Many of them used stereotypes of Russian passivity, backwardness, and fatalism to explain the need for--and the costs of--Soviet economic development. These costs included devastating famines that left millions starving while the government still exported grain.

This book is a stellar example of the new international history that seamlessly blends cultural and intellectual currents with policymaking and foreign relations. It offers valuable insights into the role of cultural differences and the shaping of economic policy for developing nations even today.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: From the Other Shore

Part I: Autocratic Russia, Lethargic Russians
1. An Empire of Climate
2. Endurance without Limit
3. Studying Our Nearest Oriental Neighbor

Part II: Revolutionary Russia, Instinctual Russians
4. Little above the Brute
5. Sheep without a Shepherd
6. Feeding the Mute Millions of Muzhiks

Part III: Modernizing Russia, Backward Russians
7. New Society, New Scholars
8. The Romance of Economic Development
9. Starving Itself Great
10. Scratch a Soviet and You'll Find a Russian

Epilogue: Russian Expertise in an Age of Social Science


Reviews of this book:
Readers of Mr. Engerman's book will be struck by parallels to current globalization debates between ascendant universalists and skeptical particularists.
--Bertrand M. Patenaude, Wall Street Journal

Based on extraordinary archival research, Engerman's gripping study is historical scholarship at its most impressive.
--Anders Stephanson, Columbia University

David Engerman has written an original and imaginatively conceived inquiry into cultural perception as a form of social power--and moral challenge. Deftly weaving together Russian and American history, he recounts how U.S. foreign policy intellectuals and experts of all political persuasions allowed persistent cultural stereotypes and universalistic visions of the future to justify unimaginable suffering and death in Russia. This timely and important book speaks urgently not only to haunting moral questions of the century past but also to those in the present.
--Thomas Bender, New York University

An original, highly stimulating, and beautifully written exploration of the cultural dimension of U.S.-Russian relations. By placing American perceptions of Russia in a broad historical and conceptual context, Engerman recaptures outlooks and frameworks that were at one time central to all serious thinking about international relations. In today's era of globalization, the problems of universalism and particularism that lie at the core of his account are every bit as relevant for us as they were to his historical protagonists.
--Frank Ninkovich, St. John's University

An impressive work in a number of ways, deeply grounded in primary sources, and exceptionally well written, David Engerman's book is a treasure trove for students of Russian-American relations.
--Abbott Gleason, Brown University
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