Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times - Soviet Russia in the 1930s

Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times - Soviet Russia in the 1930s

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By (author) Sheila Fitzpatrick

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 213mm x 23mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 9 December 2000
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195050010
  • ISBN 13: 9780195050011
  • Sales rank: 165,441

Product description

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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Author information

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.

Review quote

Of the two, Fitzpatrick is incomparably the finer historian ... There is no doubt abou the quality of Fitzpatrick's research ... THES, 12/04/2002 "A fine work-engrossing, well written, superbly documented, and much needed to boot...[The book's sources] make absolutely fascinating reading...An assiduous scholar, Professor Fitzpatrick seems to have scrutinized every relevant scrap of paper. Her explication is a model of balance and judiciousness...Individual memoirs apart, most histories of this period were written from the top-that is, showing how the policies were shaped and implemented, rather than how they were perceived and experienced by their subjects. It is the latter...that constitutes the major distinction of Fitzpatrick's book."-Abraham Brumberg, The Nation "The author's rich materials challenge readers to build their own model of Stalin's people, their complicity and resistance."-Wilson Quarterly "A most welcome addition to the literature on Stalin's Russia...Fitzpatrick has used the entire range of sources available, from familiar memoirs and postwar interview material to contemporary research and an array of archival information...The book is a major contribution to understanding this extraordinary period. Its lucid prose and the inherent interest of its subject matter should make it accessible to undergraduates, as well as to more specialized readers."-Choice "One of the most influential historians of the Soviet period describes what it was like to live under Stalin in the 1930s-the frantic, heroic, tragic decade of collectivization, forced-draft industrialization, and purges, when ordinary Russians struggled to a find a wearable pair of shoes and lined up in subzero weather at two o'clock in the morning in the hope of getting 16 grams of bread...They were years of unimaginable hardship and brutality but also of idealism, a surreal melange that [Fitzpatrick] captures with admirable matter-of-factness."-Foreign Affairs "A fine crossover book for both upperlevel and introductory courses...Well written."-Roger W. Haughey, Georgetown University "Everyday Stalinism should prove invaluable for any course on Soviet history. Knowing how a nation's people actually lived, thought, and felt is essential to any real understanding of the past. On this, Fitzpatrick-who has done more than any other scholar to make the complexities of the social history of the Stalin years come alive-delivers as no one else can."-John McCannon, Norwich University Review from previous edition "Fitzpatrick makes subtle use of the press and of police reports that assist in giving us one of the most comprhensive accounts of what it meant to live in Stalin's Russia in the 1930's" Kirkus Reviews

Editorial reviews

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)

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ; INTRODUCTION ; 1. "The Party Is Always Right" ; 2. Hard Times ; 3. Palaces on Monday ; 4. The Magic Tablecloth ; 5. Insulted and Injured ; 6. Family Problems ; 7. Conversations and Listeners ; 8. A Time of Troubles ; CONCLUSION ; NOTES ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEX