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Lysenko Affair / Edition 1

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The Lysenko affair was perhaps the most bizarre chapter in the history of modern science. For thirty years, until 1965, Soviet genetics was dominated by a fanatical agronomist who achieved dictatorial power over genetics and plant science as well as agronomy.

"A standard source both for Soviet specialists and for sociologists of science."—American Journal of Sociology

"Joravsky has produced . . . the most detailed and authoritative treatment of Lysenko and his view on genetics."—New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226410319
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Joravsky is professor of history at Northwestern University.
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Table of Contents

1. Soviet Ideology as a Problem
2. A Crisis of Faith in Science
3. Harmless Cranks
Lysenko and Other Peasant Scientists
4. Raising Stalin's Hand
The First Clashes
Systematic Conflict
5. Stalinist Self-Defeat, 1936-1950
The Final "Discussion"
6. Self-Conquest, 1950-1965
Under Stalin
Under Khrushchev
Against Khrushchev
7. Academic Issues: Science
Plant Physiology
The Autonomy of Scientists
8. Academic Issues: Marxism
The Human Animal
9. The Criterion of Practice
10. Ideologies and Realities
Appendix A. Repressed Specialists
Appendix B. For the Kremlinologists
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    "The Lysenko Affair" : Breeding Truth

    Joravsky's book is informative though confusing. Though Joravsky's writing style was overly verbose at times, I enjoyed his metaphors to evolution about the very people denying it. He realized his limitations, writing while the Soviet Union was still intact, while archives were still closed. My biggest problem with the book was that at the end, he states his thesis as, "Stalinist irrationality functioned as a wasteful and brutal aid to the modernization of agriculture." (Joravsky, 312) I thought a more appropriate culmination of the points in the book is as follows. Soviet officials latched on to Lysenko's pseudoscience because it promised immediate results, and dealt with practical issues, not intellectual, "bourgeois" theory, as genetics and plant physiology do. Soviet officials did not gravitate to Lysenko because they thought it would help them breed a population of perfect communist people; that popular notion originated in the West.

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