Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society

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Overview

"The Gulag has been deployed as the central metaphor of the Soviet experiment. In many ways, it was the brutal double of the Stalinist system as a whole, as it combined violence and social transformation simultaneously. In this compelling and illuminating book, Barnes examines the vast prison and camp system literally from top to bottom. He brings to life a world of horror and despair perversely aimed at founding a transcendent society."—Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan

"Death and Redemption is a work of major scholarly significance. Barnes demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the workings of ideology in Soviet penal practice as well as a mastery of the sources. This wide-ranging study brings to light for the first time in English the vast variety of penal institutions that fell under the jurisdiction of the Gulag, and grounds the Gulag within the broader history of the Soviet Union."—Lynne Viola, author of The Unknown Gulag

"Death and Redemption provides an extraordinarily rich account of the Gulag that goes far beyond traditional views of life in the camps to show how it mirrored and recreated the hierarchies and tensions of broader Soviet society. When all is said and done, this is a brilliant book. Readers, both general and scholarly, will find material for thought here, supported by careful documentation and excellent, absolutely first-rate analysis."—Elizabeth A. Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This well-written, well-researched book frames the Gulag in an original and compelling manner. Barnes argues that the Gulag must be seen as part of the Soviet state's overall ideological project, and that one component of this project was the use of the camp system to redeem through labor those who could be redeemed. He casts our understanding of the Gulag, and the Stalinist period generally, in a new light."—Peter Holquist, University of Pennsylvania

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Editorial Reviews

Europe-Asia Studies

Steven Barnes' historical study of the Gulag practices of its prisoners' 're-education' and rehabilitation is a compelling contribution to the vast and continually expanding body of scholarly literature on the Stalinist era. . . . I ought to conclude this review with commending and thanking the author for tackling a very difficult subject in a scholarly, objective and thought-provoking manner.
— Elena Katz
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2013 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association

Winner of the 2011 Baker-Burton Award, European History Section of the Southern Historical Association

Shortlisted for the 2013 Central Eurasian Studies Society Book Award

"Death and Redemption is a well-written and provocatively argued book that all serious students of Soviet history will need to read and contemplate. Drawing from a wide variety of Russian and Kazakh archives and displaying a firm command of the available primary and secondary sources, Barnes has clearly done his research and done it well. Barnes's focus on ideology is new and refreshing. . . . [T]his book is a major achievement. . . . Steven Barnes's monograph is quite simply the best introduction to the Gulag currently available."—Brian LaPierre, Russian Review

"Barnes's Death and Redemption performs a timely and important service. . . . In taking on the Gulag, perhaps the nadir of the Soviet experience, without ideological rancor, Barnes has made a significant contribution to Soviet history, and provided the interested general reader with a fascinating experience."—John Bokina, European Legacy

"Steven Barnes' historical study of the Gulag practices of its prisoners' 're-education' and rehabilitation is a compelling contribution to the vast and continually expanding body of scholarly literature on the Stalinist era. . . . I ought to conclude this review with commending and thanking the author for tackling a very difficult subject in a scholarly, objective and thought-provoking manner."—Elena Katz, Europe-Asia Studies

"[T]his is an important book that should be widely read. Whether or not one fundamentally agrees with its interpretation of the Gulag and its place in Soviet society, this is a well-researched, original, and sophisticated work that challenges many long-held assumptions."—Alan Barenberg, Modern History

"Steven A. Barnes does a wonderful job describing how the gulag, created to isolate, purify, and reeducate criminal and political prisoners, failed as an institution."—Kate Brown, Slavic Review

European Legacy

Barnes's Death and Redemption performs a timely and important service. . . . In taking on the Gulag, perhaps the nadir of the Soviet experience, without ideological rancor, Barnes has made a significant contribution to Soviet history, and provided the interested general reader with a fascinating experience.
— John Bokina
Europe Asia Studies
Steven Barnes' historical study of the Gulag practices of its prisoners' 're-education' and rehabilitation is a compelling contribution to the vast and continually expanding body of scholarly literature on the Stalinist era. . . . I ought to conclude this review with commending and thanking the author for tackling a very difficult subject in a scholarly, objective and thought-provoking manner.
— Elena Katz
Russian Review - Brian LaPierre
Death and Redemption is a well-written and provocatively argued book that all serious students of Soviet history will need to read and contemplate. Drawing from a wide variety of Russian and Kazakh archives and displaying a firm command of the available primary and secondary sources, Barnes has clearly done his research and done it well. Barnes's focus on ideology is new and refreshing. . . . [T]his book is a major achievement. . . . Steven Barnes's monograph is quite simply the best introduction to the Gulag currently available.
European Legacy - John Bokina
Barnes's Death and Redemption performs a timely and important service. . . . In taking on the Gulag, perhaps the nadir of the Soviet experience, without ideological rancor, Barnes has made a significant contribution to Soviet history, and provided the interested general reader with a fascinating experience.
Europe Asia Studies - Elena Katz
Steven Barnes' historical study of the Gulag practices of its prisoners' 're-education' and rehabilitation is a compelling contribution to the vast and continually expanding body of scholarly literature on the Stalinist era. . . . I ought to conclude this review with commending and thanking the author for tackling a very difficult subject in a scholarly, objective and thought-provoking manner.
Modern History - Alan Barenberg
[T]his is an important book that should be widely read. Whether or not one fundamentally agrees with its interpretation of the Gulag and its place in Soviet society, this is a well-researched, original, and sophisticated work that challenges many long-held assumptions.
Slavic Review - Kate Brown
Steven A. Barnes does a wonderful job describing how the gulag, created to isolate, purify, and reeducate criminal and political prisoners, failed as an institution.
Russian Review
Death and Redemption is a well-written and provocatively argued book that all serious students of Soviet history will need to read and contemplate. Drawing from a wide variety of Russian and Kazakh archives and displaying a firm command of the available primary and secondary sources, Barnes has clearly done his research and done it well. Barnes's focus on ideology is new and refreshing. . . . [T]his book is a major achievement. . . . Steven Barnes's monograph is quite simply the best introduction to the Gulag currently available.
— Brian LaPierre
European Legacy
Barnes's Death and Redemption performs a timely and important service. . . . In taking on the Gulag, perhaps the nadir of the Soviet experience, without ideological rancor, Barnes has made a significant contribution to Soviet history, and provided the interested general reader with a fascinating experience.
— John Bokina
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691151120
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven A. Barnes is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Mason University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
INTRODUCTION 1
CHAPTER 1: The Origins, Functions, and Institutions of the Gulag 7
CHAPTER 2: Reclaiming the Margins and the Marginal: Gulag Practices in Karaganda, 1930s 28
CHAPTER 3: Categorizing Prisoners: The Identities of the Gulag 79
CHAPTER 4: Armageddon and the Gulag, 1939-1945 107
CHAPTER 5: A New Circle of Hell: The Postwar Gulag and the Rise of the Special Camps 155
CHAPTER 6: The Crash of the Gulag: Releases and Uprisings in the Post-Stalin Era 201
CONCLUSION 254
Notes 259
References 329
Index 341

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