My interview with Claudia Verhoeven on her book The Odd Man Karakozov: Imperial Russia, Modernity, and the Birth of Terrorism is now online.
Subscribe via Itunes.
You Might also like
By Sean — 10 years ago
I usually don’t cheerlead the work my adviser and friend, J. Arch Getty, but if you have any interest in his new book Stalin’s Iron Fist, read Simon Sebag Montefiore‘s review in the Telegraph. If you’re not familiar Getty’s work, over the last two decades he has single handedly rewritten the history of the Terror as we know it. In Stalin’s Iron Fist, he explores the meteoric rise of the modest, hardworking Nikolai Ezhov from a worker in the famed Putilov factory to the head of the NKVD. In many ways, Ezhov’s rise and fall is an archetype of the inner dichotomies of the Stalinist new man: he was a benefiary, shaper, power player, perpetrator, and victim of the very system that created him.
But I’m hardly an impartial critic of Getty’s work, so instead I’ll let Montefiore sing its praises:
J. Arch Getty, an American professor, and Oleg Naumov, deputy chief of Moscow’s Communist Party archive, have produced this fascinating and essential biography, which tells us more about the Kremlin and Soviet Russia than most history books.
The authors show how personal politics was in the 1930s; how responsibility and power was greater than we realised; how a form of real politics continued even under the dictatorship. If you want to understand how Stalinist Russia worked, read this book.
Yezhov was, in fact, an impressive and indefatigable bureaucrat, not a secret policeman: tiny, genial, hardworking, ruthless, shrewd.
By about 1930 he was the leading personnel expert in the Bolshevik Party Central Committee. By 1934, he was hugely important, one of the Party Secretariat under Stalin, a member of many of the overlapping Party organs.
He was liked, regarded as honest, he sang nicely and had good manners but as one of his patrons remarked: ‘If you want something done, no one can do it better than Yezhov. The only trouble is he doesn’t know when to stop.’
If that’s not a ringing endorsement from a well respected researcher of Stalin, then I don’t know what is.Post Views: 835
By Sean — 10 years ago
Steve Barnes, Assistant Professor at George Mason University, has set up a invaluable site called Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. Barnes is an expert in the history of the Gulag. I had the pleasure of hearing paper of his at the “The Relaunch of the Soviet Project, 1945-1964” conference at the University College London in 2006. I especially look forward to his upcoming book on the subject.
Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives provides a comprehensive, nuanced, and sensitive picture of life in what was officially known as the Soviet Union’s Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies. The main exhibit, Days and Lives, gives a documentary run down of the experience of arrest, labor, suffering, dealing with criminal gangs, and how million died and survived imprisonment. It’s truly an amazing and much needed achievement in history and memory.
In addition to the exhibits on Gulag life, Barnes has also organized a series called Episodes in Gulag History. Episodes features conversations with scholars, writers, and others on different aspects of the Gulag system. So far there is only one conversation with University of Toronto History Professor Lynne Viola on her new book The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. I’m sure many more will soon follow. Subscribe to their podcast feed to stay updated.
This site will be a great addition for my upcoming History of Russia class.
Thanks to James at Robert Amsterdam for drawing my attention to it.Post Views: 483