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Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dniepropetrovsk, 1960-1985

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Overview

How did rock music and other products of Western culture come to pervade youth culture in Brezhnev-era Dniepropetrovsk, a Ukrainian city essentially closed to outsiders and heavily policed by the KGB? In Rock and Roll in the Rocket City, Sergei I. Zhuk assesses the impact of Westernization on the city’s youth, examining the degree to which the consumption of Western music, movies, and literature ultimately challenged the ideological control maintained by state officials. One among many of his stories is how the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar led Dniepropetrovsk's young people to embrace not just one, but two Soviet taboos: rock music and Christianity.

This book is the first historical study—in any language—of the everyday lives of Soviet urban youth during the Brezhnev era. A longtime student and resident of Dniepropetrovsk, Zhuk began research for this project in the 1990s. Weaving together diaries, interviews, oral histories, and KGB and party archival documents, he provides a vivid account of how Soviet cultural repression and unrest during the Brezhnev period laid the groundwork for a resurgent Ukrainian nationalism in the 1980s. In so doing, he demonstrates the influence of Western cultural consumption on the formation of a post-Soviet national identity.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Zhuk provides an invaluable addition to a less researched but culturally transformative period between Khrushchev's 'thaw' and Gorbachev's perestroika. Illustrations, an excellent bibliography, and richly informed footnotes abound.

Journal of Social History
Zhuk's excellent monograph makes a signal contribution in teasing out the complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions of official policy toward 'western' cultural influence from the 1960s to the mid-1980s... this book... should be lauded for taking a major step forward in the study of popular culture in the late Soviet Union.

— Gleb Tsipursky

American Historical Review
Sergei I. Zhuk's nuanced study offers a welcome addition to the growing literature on what used to be regarded as an unvariegated era of Soviet history.

— Amy Nelson

Laboratorium
Zhuk's history of rock music is a very important contribution to late-Soviet social and institutional history.

— John Bushnell

Russian Review - Sabrina P. Ramet
Refreshingly new and rich in insights.
Ukraine Analyst - Taras Kuzio
Zhuk gives us a fascinating insight into Dnipropetrovsk under Soviet rule and provides a comprehensive background to amny of the personalities and events that took place in the first two decades of Ukrainian independence. Rock and Roll in the Rocket City should be included in every course taught on twentieth-century Ukraine.
Transitions Online - Peter Rutland
There have been worthy studies of rock music in the Soviet Union in the past, but what distinguishes Zhuk’s account is the breadth of material he has been able to assemble in documenting the deep roots that the rock culture sunk into the society of 'developed socialism'... Zhuk’s innovative book, Rock and Roll in the Rocket City, opens up a new field of inquiry, one that raises fundamental questions about what we really know about how the Soviet Union worked.
Russian History - James von Geldern
[Zhuk] makes his case convincingly in his thoroughly researched and well-organized study of western cultural influences during his youth in his home city.
Europe-Asia Studies - Robert Hornsby
A fascinating and academically important work.
Slavic Review - Kristin Roth-Ey
Rock and Roll in the Rocket City is crammed with food for thought and should provoke many productive conversations in the field of Soviet history and beyond.
Journal of Modern History - Donald J. Raleigh
Serious and highly original study, the most complete to date of Western influence in a provincial city of the former Soviet Union.
Journal of Social History - Gleb Tsipursky
Zhuk's excellent monograph makes a signal contribution in teasing out the complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions of official policy toward 'western' cultural influence from the 1960s to the mid-1980s... this book... should be lauded for taking a major step forward in the study of popular culture in the late Soviet Union.
American Historical Review - Amy Nelson
Sergei I. Zhuk's nuanced study offers a welcome addition to the growing literature on what used to be regarded as an unvariegated era of Soviet history.
Laboratorium - John Bushnell
Zhuk's history of rock music is a very important contribution to late-Soviet social and institutional history.
European Review of History - Thunnis Van Oort
This book is a rich read that pairs depth of analysis to an accurate measure of anecdote, and which succeeds in keeping a critical distance to a subject that clearly lies close to the personal affection of the author.
Choice
Zhuk provides an invaluable addition to a less researched but culturally transformative period between Khrushchev's 'thaw' and Gorbachev's perestroika. Illustrations, an excellent bibliography, and richly informed footnotes abound.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801895500
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,072,832
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sergei I. Zhuk is an associate professor of history at Ball State University. He is the author of Russia’s Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830–1917, also published by the Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins. He was a Kennan Institute Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2002–2003.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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