What about Russia?

Collection by Robby Desmond (19 items)

There's plenty to learn about one of the largest countries in the world and the former center of the Soviet Union. I've picked a few that caught my eye.

Includes the following tags:

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When Pigs Could Fly and Bears Could Dance
by Miriam Neirick
University of Wisconsin Press, 2012

For more than seven decades the circuses enjoyed tremendous popularity in the Soviet Union. How did the circus—an institution that dethroned figures of authority and refused any orderly narrative structure—become such a cultural mainstay in a state known for blunt and didactic messages? Miriam Neirick argues that the variety, flexibility, and indeterminacy of the modern circus accounted for its appeal not only to diverse viewers but also to the Soviet state. In a society where government-legitimating myths underwent periodic revision, the circus proved a supple medium of communication.
    Between 1919 and 1991, it variously displayed the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution, the beauty of the new Soviet man and woman, the vulnerability of the enemy during World War II, the prosperity of the postwar Soviet household, and the Soviet mission of international peace—all while entertaining the public with the acrobats, elephants, and clowns. With its unique ability to meet and reconcile the demands of both state and society, the Soviet circus became the unlikely darling of Soviet culture and an entertainment whose usefulness and popularity stemmed from its ambiguity.

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Toxic Voices
by Eric Laursen
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Satire and the fantastic, vital literary genres in the 1920s, are often thought to have fallen victim to the official adoption of socialist realism. Eric Laursen contends that these subversive genres did not just vanish or move underground. Instead, key strategies of each survive to sustain the villain of socialist realism. Laursen argues that the judgment of satire and the hesitation associated with the fantastic produce a narrative obsession with controlling the villain’s influence. In identifying a crucial connection between the questioning, subversive literature of the 1920s and the socialist realists, Laursen produces an insightful revision of Soviet literary history.

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The Russia Reader
edited by Adele Marie Barker and Bruce Grant
series edited by Robin Kirk and Orin Starn
Duke University Press, 2010
Letters recording the reactions of ordinary Russians to the Revolution as events unfolded in 1917, an account of the day-to-day scramble to make a living after the end of the Soviet Union, and excerpts from a sixteenth-century manual instructing elite Muscovites on proper household management—The Russia Reader brings these and many other selections together in this introduction to the history, culture, and politics of the world’s largest country, from the earliest written accounts of the Russian people to today. Conveying the texture of everyday life alongside experiences of epic historical events, the book is filled with the voices of men and women, rulers and revolutionaries, peasants, soldiers, literary figures, émigrés, journalists, and scholars. Most of the selections are by Russians, and thirty are translated into English for the first time.

Illustrated with maps, paintings, photographs, posters, and cartoons, The Russia Reader incorporates song lyrics, jokes, anecdotes, and folktales, as well as poems, essays, and fiction by writers including Akhmatova, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, and Tolstoi. Transcripts from the show trials of major Party figures and an account of how staff at the Lenin Library in Moscow were instructed to interact with foreigners are among the many selections based on personal memoirs and archival materials only recently made available to the public. From a tenth-century emissary’s description of his encounters in Kyivan Rus’, to a scientist’s recollections of her life in a new research city built from scratch in Siberia during the 1950s, to a novelist’s depiction of the decadence of the “New Russians” in the 2000s, The Russia Reader is an extraordinary introduction to a vast and varied country.

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A Russian Prince in the Soviet State
by Vladimir Sergeevich Trubetskoi
edited by Susanne Fusso
translated by Susanne Fusso
Northwestern University Press, 2006
Of a noble and distinguished family disenfranchised by the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Trubetskoi (1892-1937) alone remmained in Russia, and suffered the consequences.His life and experiences are well documented in this remarkable volume, a selection of his writings that reflects his comfortable prewar existence and his post-revolutionary poverty, uncertainty, and displacement, all conveyed with humor and ironic detachment. Including selections from Trubetskoi's memoirs, his letters from exile in Uzbekistan, and his hunting stories, the chapters of this volume offer autobiographical narratives of the self, creative "reflections," ethnography, and, most of all, uniquely evocative and informative instances of history lived and recorded with quiet power and irrepressible character.
In his letters from exile, Trubetskoi describes his grim situation in Central Asia-how he snatched moments to write between mornings playing piano in a ballet studio and late nights in a restaurant band, struggling with the heat, the insect-borne illness, and the problems of a large, uprooted family. His memoirs of 1911-12, "Notes of a Cuirassier," are the culmination of his efforts and they convey in vivid detail the glittering prewar world of an elite Russian Guards regiment. These reminiscences as well as his stories offer a glimpse of what life was like for a citizen of Imperial Russia who tried to make a life for himself in the new Soviet state. Instructive, amusing, moving, Trubetskoi's stories are also an inspiring example of how a person of grace and true nobility meets large-scale social and political upheaval.
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Russia on the Edge
by Edith W. Clowes
Cornell University Press, 2011

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russians have confronted a major crisis of identity. Soviet ideology rested on a belief in historical progress, but the post-Soviet imagination has obsessed over territory. Indeed, geographical metaphors-whether axes of north vs. south or geopolitical images of center, periphery, and border-have become the signs of a different sense of self and the signposts of a new debate about Russian identity. In Russia on the Edge, Edith W. Clowes argues that refurbished geographical metaphors and imagined geographies provide a useful perspective for examining post-Soviet debates about what it means to be Russian today.

Clowes lays out several sides of the debate. She takes as a backdrop the strong criticism of Soviet Moscow and its self-image as uncontested global hub by major contemporary writers, among them Tatyana Tolstaya and Viktor Pelevin. The most vocal, visible, and colorful rightist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, the founder of neo-Eurasianism, has articulated positions contested by such writers and thinkers as Mikhail Ryklin, Liudmila Ulitskaia, and Anna Politkovskaia, whose works call for a new civility in a genuinely pluralistic Russia. Dugin's extreme views and their many responses-in fiction, film, philosophy, and documentary journalism-form the body of this book.

In Russia on the Edge, literary and cultural critics will find the keys to a vital post-Soviet writing culture. For intellectual historians, cultural geographers, and political scientists the book is a guide to the variety of post-Soviet efforts to envision new forms of social life, even as a reconstructed authoritarianism has taken hold. The book introduces nonspecialist readers to some of the most creative and provocative of present-day Russia's writers and public intellectuals.

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Professions And The State
by Anthony Jones
Temple University Press, 1991

Unlike autonomous professionals in Western industrialized democracies, professionals in a socialist, bureaucratic setting operate as employees of the state. The change in environment has important Implications not only for the practice of professions but also for the concept of professionalism itself. This collection of nine essays is the first to survey the major professions In the USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. The contributors investigate the implications of professional experience in a socialist economy as well as relating changes in professional organization and power to reform movements in general and perestroika in particular.


In the series Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni.
 

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Lenin's Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives
by Paul R. Gregory
Hoover Institution Press, 2008

The secret world of the Soviet Union revealed

The opening of the once-secret Soviet state and party archives in the early 1990s proved to be an event of exceptional significance. When Western scholars broke down the official wall of secrecy that had stood for decades, they gained access to intriguing new knowledge they had previously only had been able to speculate about. In this fascinating volume, Paul Gregory takes us behind scenes and into the archives to illuminate the dark inner workings of the Soviet Union.

He reveals, for example, the bizarre story of the state-sponsored scientific study of Lenin's brain. Originally conceived to "prove" Lenin's genius, the plan was never revealed to the public—for to do so was more than the security-conscious Soviet leadership could have borne. Gregory also exposes the harsh features of Stalin's criminal justice system—in which the theft of state and collective property was punished far more severely than the theft of private property. Indeed, the theft of small amounts of grain was punishable by ten years in the Gulag or a death sentence. The author also illuminates the true story behind the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, telling how the ill-conceived incursion was ordered by a Politburo of aging and ill leaders who would not be around to deal with the long-term consequences of their decision.

In addition, the book examines such topics as Stalin's Great Terror, the day-to-day life of Gulag guards, Lenin's repression of "noncommunist" physicians and his purge of intellectuals, the 1940 Soviet execution of 20,000 Poles, and other previously well-concealed tales.

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Into the Cosmos
edited by James T. Andrews and Asif A. Siddiqi
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011

The launch of the Sputnik satellite in October 1957 changed the course of human history. In the span of a few years, Soviets sent the first animal into space, the first man, and the first woman. These events were a direct challenge to the United States and the capitalist model that claimed ownership of scientific aspiration and achievement.
      The success of the space program captured the hopes and dreams of nearly every Soviet citizen and became a critical cultural vehicle in the country’s emergence from Stalinism and the devastation of World War II. It also proved to be an invaluable tool in a worldwide propaganda campaign for socialism, a political system that could now seemingly accomplish anything it set its mind to.
       Into the Cosmos shows us the fascinating interplay of Soviet politics, science, and culture during the Khrushchev era, and how the space program became a binding force between these elements. The chapters examine the ill-fitted use of cosmonauts as propaganda props, the manipulation of gender politics after Valentina Tereshkova’s flight, and the use of public interest in cosmology as a tool for promoting atheism. Other chapters explore the dichotomy of promoting the space program while maintaining extreme secrecy over its operations, space animals as media darlings, the history of Russian space culture, and the popularity of space-themed memorabilia that celebrated Soviet achievement and planted the seeds of consumerism.

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Hot Coal, Cold Steel
by Stephen Crowley
University of Michigan Press, 1997
Well after the disintegration of the Communist Party and the Soviet state--and through several years of economic collapse--industrial workers in almost every sector of the former Soviet Union have remained quiescent and the same ineffective and unpopular trade unions still hold a virtual monopoly on worker's representation. Why? While many argue that labor is a central variable in the development of economic and political systems, little is known about workers in the states of the former Soviet Union since the fall of Communism. In a comparative study of two groups of industrial workers--the coal miners and steelworkers--at the end of the Soviet era, Stephen Crowley sheds light on where these workers have been and where they are going.
Coal miners in the final years of the Soviet Union effectively organized and led strikes which supported the end of Communism, even though their heavy subsidies would be threatened by capitalism. Steel workers, in contrast, did not effectively organize and strike. This pattern has continued under the new governments, with the coal miners effectively organized and seeking protection from the worst consequences of marketization, while the steel workers remain weakly organized despite deteriorating economic conditions.
Based on extensive on-site research including interviews with miners and steelworkers, labor leaders and plant managers, Crowley develops a detailed picture of the conditions under which workers organize. His findings have application beyond the conditions of post-Communist Russia and Ukraine to other societies undergoing fundamental change.
This book will be of interest to sociologists and political scientists interested in the role of labor in transitional societies, the patterns of organization of labor, as well as area specialists.
Stephen Crowley is Associate Professor of Political Science, Oberlin College.
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A History of Russian Literary Theory and Criticism
edited by Evgeny Dobrenko and Galin Tihanov
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013

This volume assembles the work of leading international scholars in a comprehensive history of Russian literary theory and criticism from 1917 to the post-Soviet age. By examining the dynamics of literary criticism and theory in three arenas—political, intellectual, and institutional—the authors capture the progression and structure of Russian literary criticism and its changing function and discourse.
      The chapters follow early movements such as formalism, the Bakhtin Circle, Proletklut, futurism, the fellow-travelers, and the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. By the cultural revolution of 1928, literary criticism became a mechanism of Soviet policies, synchronous with official ideology. The chapters follow theory and criticism into the 1930s with examinations of the Union of Soviet Writers, semantic paleontology, and socialist realism under Stalin. A more “humanized” literary criticism appeared during the ravaging years of World War II, only to be supplanted by a return to the party line, Soviet heroism, and anti-Semitism in the late Stalinist period. During Khrushchev’s Thaw, there was a remarkable rise in liberal literature and criticism, that was later refuted in the nationalist movement of the “long” 1970s. The same decade saw, on the other hand, the rise to prominence of semiotics and structuralism. Postmodernism and a strong revival of academic literary studies have shared the stage since the start of the post-Soviet era.
      For the first time anywhere, this collection analyzes all of the important theorists and major critical movements during a tumultuous ideological period in Russian history, including developments in émigré literary theory and criticism.

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Euphoria and Exhaustion
edited by Nikolaus Katzer, Sandra Budy, Alexandra Köhring and Manfred Zeller
Campus Verlag, 2010

The architects of the Soviet Union intended not merely to remake their society—they also had an ambitious plan to remake the citizenry physically, with the goal of perfecting the socialist ideal of man. As Euphoria and Exhaustionshows, the Soviet leadership used sport as one of the primary arenas in which to deploy and test their efforts to mechanize and perfect the human body, drawing on knowledge from physiology, biology, medicine, and hygiene. At the same time, however, such efforts, like any form of social control, could easily lead to discontent—and thus, the editors show, a study of changes in public attitude towards sport can offer insight into overall levels of integration, dissatisfaction, and social exhaustion in the Soviet Union.

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The Disabled in the Soviet Union
edited by William O. McCagg and Lewis Siegelbaum
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989
In topics ranging from industrial accident prevention before and during Stalin's industrialization drive to the long and complex history of the Soviet “science” called defectology, the essays in this collection chronicle the responses of the state and society to a variety of disabled groups and disabilities. Also included, in addition to the editors, are Julie Brown, Vera Dunham, David Joravsky, Janet Knox and Alex Kozulin, Stephen and Ethel Dunn, Bernice Madison, Paul Raymond, and Mark Field.

This unusual and provocative collection brings to light a dimension of Soviet history and policy rarely explored.
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Closer to the Masses
by Matthew E. LENOE
Harvard University Press, 2004
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A Biography of No Place
by Kate BROWN
Harvard University Press, 2004

This is a biography of a borderland between Russia and Poland, a region where, in 1925, people identified as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived side by side. Over the next three decades, this mosaic of cultures was modernized and homogenized out of existence by the ruling might of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and finally, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. By the 1950s, this "no place" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mix of peoples that defined the region was destroyed.

Brown's study is grounded in the life of the village and shtetl, in the personalities and small histories of everyday life in this area. In impressive detail, she documents how these regimes, bureaucratically and then violently, separated, named, and regimented this intricate community into distinct ethnic groups.

Drawing on recently opened archives, ethnography, and oral interviews that were unavailable a decade ago, A Biography of No Place reveals Stalinist and Nazi history from the perspective of the remote borderlands, thus bringing the periphery to the center of history.

We are given, in short, an intimate portrait of the ethnic purification that has marked all of Europe, as well as a glimpse at the margins of twentieth-century "progress."



Table of Contents:

Glossary

Introduction
1. Inventory
2. Ghosts in the Bathhouse
3. Moving Pictures
4. The Power to Name
5. A Diary of Deportation
6. The Great Purges and the Rights of Man
7. Deportee into Colonizer
8. Racial Hierarchies
Epilogue: Shifting Borders, Shifting Identities

Notes
Archival Sources
Acknowledgments
Index



This is a biography of a borderland between Russia and Poland, a region where, in 1925, people identified as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived side by side. Over the next three decades, this mosaic of cultures was modernized and homogenized out of existence by the ruling might of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and finally, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. By the 1950s, this "no place" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mix of peoples that defined the region was destroyed. Brown's study is grounded in the life of the village and shtetl, in the personalities and small histories of everyday life in this area. In impressive detail, she documents how these regimes, bureaucratically and then violently, separated, named, and regimented this intricate community into distinct ethnic groups. Drawing on recently opened archives, ethnography, and oral interviews that were unavailable a decade ago, A Biography of No Place reveals Stalinist and Nazi history from the perspective of the remote borderlands, thus bringing the periphery to the center of history. Brown argues that repressive national policies grew not out of chauvinist or racist ideas, but the very instruments of modern governance - the census, map, and progressive social programs - first employed by Bolshevik reformers in the western borderlands. We are given, in short, an intimate portrait of the ethnic purification that has marked all of Europe, as well as a glimpse at the margins of twentieth century "progress." Kate Brown is Assistant Professor of History at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

A Biography of No Place is one of the most original and imaginative works of history to emerge in the western literature on the former Soviet Union in the last ten years. Historiographically fearless, Kate Brown writes with elegance and force, turning this history of a lost, but culturally rich borderland into a compelling narrative that serves as a microcosm for understanding nation and state in the Twentieth Century. With compassion and respect for the diverse people who inhabited this margin of territory between Russia and Poland, Kate Brown restores the voices, memories, and humanity of a people lost.
--Lynne Viola, Professor of History, University of Toronto

Samuel Butler and Kate Brown have something in common. Both have written about Erewhon with imagination and flair. I was captivated by the courage and enterprise behind this book. Is there a way to write a history of events that do not make rational sense? Kate Brown asks. She proceeds to give us a stunning answer.
--Modris Eksteins, author of Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

Kate Brown tells the story of how succeeding regimes transformed a onetime multiethnic borderland into a far more ethnically homogeneous region through their often murderous imperialist and nationalist projects. She writes evocatively of the inhabitants' frequently challenged identities and livelihoods and gives voice to their aspirations and laments, including Poles, Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, and Russians. A Biography of No Place is a provocative meditation on the meanings of periphery and center in the writing of history.
--Mark von Hagen, Professor of History, Columbia University
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Aesthetics of Alienation
by Evgeny Dobrenko
translated by Jesse Savage
Northwestern University Press, 2005
This provocative work takes issue with the idea that Socialist Realism was mainly the creation of party leaders and was imposed from above on the literati who lived and worked under the Soviet regime. Evgeny Dobrenko, a leading expert on Soviet literature, argues instead--and offers persuasive evidence--that the aesthetic theories underpinning Socialist Realism arose among the writers themselves, born of their proponents' desire for power in the realm of literary policymaking. Accordingly, Dobrenko closely considers the evolution of these theories, deciphering the power relations and social conditions that helped to shape them.

In chapters on Proletkult, RAPP, LEF, and Pereval, Dobrenko reexamines the theories generated by these major Marxist literary groupings of the early Soviet Union. He shows how each approached the problems of literature's response to the presumed social mandate of the young communist society, and how Socialist Realism emerged as a conglomerate of these earlier, revolutionary theories. With extensive and detailed reference to supporting testimony and documents, Dobrenko clearly demonstrates how Socialist Realism was created from within the revolutionary culture, and how this culture and its disciples fully participated in this creative process. His work represents a major breakthrough in our current understanding of the complex sources that contributed to early Soviet culture.
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Agriculture and the State in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia
by Stephen Wegren
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998
A comprehensive, original, and innovative analysis of the social, economic, and political factors affecting contemporary Russian reform, the book is organized around the central question of the role of the state and its effect on the course of Russian agrarian reform.  In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, contemporary conventional wisdom holds the the Russian state is “weak.”  Stephen Wegren feels that the traditional approach to the weak/strong state suffers from measurement and circular logic problems, believing that the Russian state, thought weaker than in its Soviet past, is still relatively stronger than other actors.  The state’s strength allows it to intervene in the rural sector in ways that other power contender cannot.

Specifically, as a measure of state intervention, Wegren analyzes how the state has influenced urban-rural relations, rural-rural relations, and the nonstate (private) agricultural sector.  Several dilemmas arose that have complicated successful agrarian reform as a result of the nature of state interventions, how reform policies were defined, and the incentives rhar arose from state-sponsored policies.  During contemporary Russian agrarian reform, urban-rural differences have widened, marked by a deterioration in rural standards of living and increased alienation of rural political groups from urban alliances.  At the same time, within the rural sector, reform failed to reverse rural egalitarianism.  In addition, the nature of state interventions has undermined attempts to create a vibrant, productive private rural sector based on private farming.

Wegren’s research is based upon extensive field work, interviews, archival documents, and published and unpublished source material conducted over a six-year period, and he demonstrates the link between agrarian reform and the success of overall reform in Russia.  This learned and often controversial volume will interest political scientists, policy makers, and scholars and students of contemporary Russia.
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The Body Soviet
by Tricia Starks
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
In 1918 the People's Commissariat of Public Health began a quest to protect the health of all Soviet citizens, but health became more than a political platform or a tactical decision. The Soviets defined and categorized the world by interpreting political orthodoxy and citizenship in terms of hygiene. The assumed political, social, and cultural benefits of a regulated, healthy lifestyle informed the construction of Soviet institutions and identity. Cleanliness developed into a political statement that extended from domestic maintenance to leisure choices and revealed gender, ethnic, and class prejudices. Dirt denoted the past and poor politics; health and cleanliness signified mental acuity, political orthodoxy, and modernity.

Health, though essential to the revolutionary vision and crucial to Soviet plans for utopia, has been neglected by traditional histories caught up in Cold War debates. The Body Soviet recovers this significant aspect of Soviet thought by providing a cross-disciplinary, comparative history of Soviet health programs that draws upon rich sources of health care propaganda, including posters, plays, museum displays, films, and mock trials. The analysis of propaganda makes The Body Soviet more than an institutional history; it is also an insightful critique of the ideologies of the body fabricated by health organizations.

"A masterpiece that will thoroughly fascinate and delight readers. Starks's understanding of propaganda and hygiene in the early Soviet state is second to none. She tells the stories of Soviet efforts in this field with tremendous insight and ingenuity, providing a rich picture of Soviet life as it was actually lived."— Elizabeth Wood, author of From Baba to Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia
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Cars for Comrades
by Lewis H. Siegelbaum
Cornell University Press, 2008

The automobile and Soviet communism made an odd couple. The quintessential symbol of American economic might and consumerism never achieved iconic status as an engine of Communist progress, in part because it posed an awkward challenge to some basic assumptions of Soviet ideology and practice. In this rich and often witty book, Lewis H. Siegelbaum recounts the life of the Soviet automobile and in the process gives us a fresh perspective on the history and fate of the USSR itself.

Based on sources ranging from official state archives to cartoons, car-enthusiast magazines, and popular films, Cars for Comrades takes us from the construction of the huge "Soviet Detroits," emblems of the utopian phase of Soviet planning, to present-day Togliatti, where the fate of Russia's last auto plant hangs in the balance. The large role played by American businessmen and engineers in the checkered history of Soviet automobile manufacture is one of the book's surprises, and the author points up the ironic parallels between the Soviet story and the decline of the American Detroit. In the interwar years, automobile clubs, car magazines, and the popularity of rally races were signs of a nascent Soviet car culture, its growth slowed by the policies of the Stalinist state and by Russia's intractable "roadlessness." In the postwar years cars appeared with greater frequency in songs, movies, novels, and in propaganda that promised to do better than car-crazy America.

Ultimately, Siegelbaum shows, the automobile epitomized and exacerbated the contradictions between what Soviet communism encouraged and what it provided. To need a car was a mark of support for industrial goals; to want a car for its own sake was something else entirely. Because Soviet cars were both hard to get and chronically unreliable, and such items as gasoline and spare parts so scarce, owning and maintaining them enmeshed citizens in networks of private, semi-illegal, and ideologically heterodox practices that the state was helpless to combat. Deeply researched and engagingly told, this masterful and entertaining biography of the Soviet automobile provides a new perspective on one of the twentieth century's most iconic-and important-technologies and a novel approach to understanding the history of the Soviet Union itself.

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Stalin's Romeo Spy
by Emil Draitser
foreword by Gary Kern
Northwestern University Press, 2010

Sailor, painter, doctor, lawyer, polyglot, and writer, Dmitri Bystrolyotov

(1901–75) led a life that might seem far-fetched for a spy novel, yet here

the truth is stranger than fiction. The result of a thirty-five-year journey

that started with a private meeting between the author and Bystrolyotov

in 1973 Moscow and continued through the author’s subsequent

research in international archives, Stalin’s Romeo Spy: The Remarkable

Rise and Fall of the KGB’s Most Daring Operative pieces together a life lived

in the shadows of the twentieth century’s biggest events.

One of the “Great Illegals,” a team of outstanding Soviet spies operating

in Western countries between the world wars, Bystrolyotov was

the response to Sidney Reilly, the British prototype for James Bond.

A dashing man, his modus operandi was the seduction of women—

among them a French embassy employee, a German countess, the wife

of a British official, and a Gestapo officer—which enabled Stalin to look

into diplomatic pouches of many European countries. Risking his life,

Bystrolyotov also stole military secrets from Nazi Germany and Fascist

Italy. A man of extraordinary physical courage, he twice crossed the

Sahara Desert and the jungles of Congo.

But his success as a spy didn’t save him from Stalin’s purges, at the

height of which he was arrested and tortured until he falsely confessed

to selling out to the enemy. Sentenced to twenty years of hard labor in

the Gulag, Bystrolyotov risked more severe punishment by documenting

the regime’s crimes against humanity in unpublished and suppressed

memoirs that rival those of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

The first full-length biography in any language, at once a real-life

spy thriller, a drama of desire, and a prison memoir, Stalin’s Romeo Spy

is the true account of a flawed yet extraordinary man.

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