Here is a pioneeering account of everyday life under Stalin, written by one of our foremost authorities on modern Russain history. Focusing on urban areas in the 1930's, Sheila Fitzpatrick shows that with the adoption of collectivisation and the first Five Year Plan, everyday life was utterly transformed. with the abolition of the market, shortages of food, clothing, and all kinds of consumer goods became endemic. As peasants fled the collectivised villages, major cities were soon in the grip of a major housing crisis, with families jammed for decades into tiny single rooms in communal appartments, counting living space in square metres. It was a world of overcrowding, privation, endless queues, and broken families, in which the regime's promise of future socialist abundance rand hollowly. We read of a government bureaucracy that often turned everyday life into a nightmare, and of the ways that ordinary citizens tried to circumvent it, primarily by patronage and the ubiquitous system of personal connections known as "blat".
And we read of the police surveillance that was endemic to this society, and the waves of terror like the Great Purges of 1937, that periodically cast this world into turmoil. Fitzpatrick illuminates the ways that Soviet city-dwellers coped with this world, examining such diverse activities as shoppping, travelling, telling jokes, finding an apartment, getting an education, cultivating patrons and connections, marrying and raising a family, writing complaints and denunciations, voting, and trying to steer clear of the secret police. Based on extensive research in the Soviet archives only recently opened to historians, this superb book illuminates the ways ordinary people tried to live normal lives under extraordinary circumstances.
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(205mm x 135mm x 16mm)
Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
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UK Kirkus Review »
Exploring the social history of Russia's urban areas in the 1930s, this impressive study shows how Stalin's introduction of collectivization and the first five-year plan utterly transformed the lives of the people. Here 'ordinary life' could never be ordinary. As peasants fled the collectivized villages, cities soon suffered acute lack of housing, while the abolition of the market led to shortage of food, clothing and all kinds of consumer goods. Citizens were forced to live in a world dominated by the secret police and waves of terror like the Great Purges of 1937, while at the same time trying to shop, travel, make entertainment, find jobs, marry and raise families. Modern history professor Fitzpatrick's extensive research includes work in the recently opened Soviet archives, and this poineering and accessible study of day-to-day life in an extraordinarily corrupt world is a major contribution to our understanding of the real history of Russia. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Sheila Fitzpatrick
Sheila Fitzpatrick is Bernadotte E. Schmidt Professor of Modern Russian History at the University of Chicago. A past President (1997) of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic studies, and co-editor of "The Journal of Modern History", she is the author of "The Russian Revolution", "Stalin's Peasants", and many other books and articles about Russia. She lives in Chicago and Washington, DC.