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The Soviet Experiment


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Utopia and its DiscontentsPart I: Crisis and Revolution1. The Imperial LegacyLand and PeopleAutocracy, Nobility, and BureaucracyThe Coming of CapitalismThe Russian IntelligentsiaMarx, Lenin, and the Case of RussiaEmpire and Nation in Tsarist RussiaThe Final Crisis of TsarismThe Tsar's Last WarSuggestions for Further Reading2. The Double RevolutionThe February Revolution and the End of Romanov Rule Overlapping Revolutions, Dual PowerThe Revolution DeepensOn the Road to OctoberThe October InsurrectionSuggestions for Further Reading3. Socialism and Civil WarOn the Road from Democracy to DictatorshipAfter OctoberSocialism, What's in a Name?Building State CapitalismBuilding the State: War, Peace, and TerrorIntervention and the Civil War in the SouthCivil War in Siberia and the VolgaRussia on its OwnWaiting for the International RevolutionWhere Have All the Workers Gone?The Peasant RevolutionWhy the Bolsheviks Won the Civil WarSuggestions for Further Reading4. Nationalism and RevolutionSouth CaucasiaUkrainians and BelorussiansPoland and the Russo-Polish WarThe Baltic PeoplesFinnsJewsIslam and the Peoples of the EastNationalist and Class StrugglesSuggestions for Further ReadingPart II: Retreat and Rebuilding5. Evolution of a DictatorshipFive Easy StepsOne-Party GovernmentThe Emasculation of the SovietsThe Party/StateOpposition Within the PartyResistance, Rebellion, and Mutiny"A Retreat to State Capitalism"Suggestions for Further Reading6. Socialism in One CountryThe Nationality QuestionThe General SecretaryLenin's MantleEarly Crises of the NEP EconomySocialism in One CountryThe Final Crisis of NEPRetreat and RetrenchmentSoviet Union IsolatedContinuing Revolution in AsiaThe War Scare of 1927Stalin and the CominternBalance and PowerStalin's Path to PowerSuggestions for Further Reading7. NEP SocietyCultures and ClassesWorkers under State CapitalismPeasant RussiaNepmenThe Red ArmyThe New Soviet Man and WomanReligious WarsBuilding Legitimate AuthoritySuggestions for Further Reading8. Culture WarsIntelligentsia and RevolutionFellow-Travelers and Proletarian WritersFilm and Popular CultureSoviet School DaysCultural RevolutionSuggestions for Further ReadingPart III: Stalinism9. The Stalin RevolutionRevolution from AboveWar on the Peasants and the Final OppositionCollectivization and DekulakizationFamine in UkraineThe Countryside After the StormSuggestions for Further Reading10. Stalin's Industrial RevolutionIndustrialization Stalin-StyleClass War on the "Specialists"Extension and CentralizationStalin's Working ClassThe New Class of BossesThe Second Five-Year Plan and StakhanovismMaking the Socialist CitySuggestions for Further Reading11. Building StalinismPolitics and the PartyRetreatThe Great PurgesSuggestions for Further Reading12. Culture and Society in the Socialist MotherlandSocialist RealismGoing to the Movies with StalinDisciplining the IntelligentsiaWomen and the FamilyMind, Body, and SoulIndestructible UnionSuggestions for Further Reading13. Collective Security and the Soviet StateThe Fascist MenaceThe Popular Front and Collective SecurityWar in Europe.Suggestions for Further Reading14. The Great Fatherland WarInvasionFrom Blitzkrieg to War of AttritionThe Supreme Commander and the Road to StalingradWar and Diplomacy, at Home and AbroadEndgameSuggestions for Further Reading15. The Big Chill: The Cold War BeginsHistorians Look at the Cold WarDiplomacy and the War EffortYalta and its AftermathAtomic DiplomacyA New World OrderThe Left in EuropeThe Soviets in Eastern EuropePerceptions and MisperceptionsThe Division of EuropePolandCzechoslovakiaYugoslaviaThe Finnish ExceptionThe German QuestionSuggestions for Further Reading16. Late Stalinism at Home and Abroad From under the RubbleReconstructing Hearts and MindsStalinizing Eastern EuropeCold War and Hot War High Politics in the Kremlin CourtSuggestions for Further ReadingPart IV: Reform and Stagnation17. From Autocracy to Oligarchy. Khrushchev and the Politics of ReformThe Several Deaths of StalinThe ManThe Soviets Enter the Nuclear Age"Peaceful Coexistence" and its Set-BacksKhrushchev in Crisis The "Thaw" and DestalinizationFarm, Factory, and SchoolCoexistenceRift with ChinaCrises in the WestKennedy and KhrushchevKhrushchev's Gamble: The Cuban Missile CrisisThe Fall of KhrushchevSuggestions for Further Reading18. The Paradoxes of Brezhnev's Long ReignThe LeadershipMeeting the American Challenge: VietnamThe Defeat of ReformsCrushing the Prague SpringPublic Opinion and DissentAgricultureBrezhnev AscendantSocial Changes in the Era of StagnationDetente and the Arms RaceTwo Crises: Afghanistan and PolandSuggestions for Further ReadingPart V: Reform and Revolution.19. Reform and the Road to Revolution.The Brief Reign of Iurii AndropovThe Briefer Reign of Konstantin ChernenkoThe Road to Radical ReformGlasnost and the Erosion of AuthorityThe "New Thinking and the End of the Cold WarPolitics in a New IdiomThe "Awakening" of NationsFrom Reform to RevolutionThe Unraveling of the Empire at HomeSurrendering Stalin's EmpirePower to the PeopleThe Final CrisisCoup and CollapseSuggestions for Further Reading20. The Second Russian Republic and the "Near Abroad"The Shock of TherapyConstitutional CrisisRussia, the Near Abroad, and BeyondThe War in ChechnyaTreading WaterThe Decline and AbdicationReviving RussiaThe World OutsideSuggestions for Further ReadingChronology

About the Author

Ronald Grigor Suny is Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History and Director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents (OUP, 2003) and A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (OUP, 2001).


Its main strengths, besides clear writing, are that the author lays out a range of historiographic positions on major issues (including what was, as of the book's initial publication, the positions of the very latest studies); that the author presents his own interpretative framework forcefully but without discounting other views; that the author deftly balances political, social, and cultural history without ignoring matters of diplomatic history; that the author provides clear discussions of main pillars of Soviet ideology and discusses its contested nature; that the author provides anecdotal material and fragments from documents, but always in context. Michael C. Hickey, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
The Soviet Experiment is well-written and accessible, fully appropriate for undergraduates. If I was teaching an entry-level course on Soviet history, I would consider assigning it. Fundamentally, this is an excellent text which is now almost 10 years old and hence needs to incorporate the work of historians over the past decade. Doubtless nobody knows this better than Ron Suny. H. Hogan, Oberlin College
Following my point from above, I would say that at $55-60, The Soviet Experiment is more reasonably priced than the Thompson that I currently assign. I was very impressed with The Soviet Experiment when I read it more closely for this review. The book puts the diversity, especially ethnic and national diversity, of the USSR in the forefront of the historical narrative. The "nationalities" make up an important part of the story, rather than a footnote at its end. Similarly, the book also gives a sense of the diversity of experience by gender, class and region, with attention paid in each chapter to the "average" people who lived through the wars and political programs. I think a new edition would be wonderful - I think the three changes above could make this book the best on the market for this sort of Modern Russia/USSR survey. Eliza Ablovatksi, Kenyon College
This is a serious, thoughtful, and solid work. The book is methodically written and well organized. It is easy to navigate. It provides in-depth analysis of many key issues of Soviet history. I don't think any specific changes would make it more likely for me to adopt this book for the courses I am teaching, but I am glad to provide recommendations that may improve the new edition overall. -more pictures and photographs; -references and connections to the incredible wealth of online Russian history resources -better maps - Russia should not look like one big blank spot. It has so many regional and ethnic divisions, including, by the way, Chechnya (see p. 497); -linear charts look too dry and mathematical. Leonid Trofimov, Queen's College
Suny's work is an excellent one, though this edition is certainly dated. Indeed it is likely the best textbook treatment available for a course on Russia from 1917 to 1995. As to the strengths there are many: it is well-written, balanced, comprehensive, and there is a most desirable objectivity in the way that Suny approaches the subject matter. I understand how expensive pictures can be in the text of this kind, and while the pictures included are adequate, perhaps more photos of the suffering masses in the different segments of the last century could sensitize our students of today. James Crowl, Longwood University

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