Science in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Short History

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By the 1980s the Soviet scientific establishment had become the largest in the world, but very little of its history was known in the West. What has been needed for many years in order to fill that gap in our knowledge is a history of Russian and Soviet science written for the educated person who would like to read one book on the subject. This book has been written for that reader. The main theme of the book is the shaping of science and scientific institutions in Russia and the Soviet Union by social, economic, and political factors. Russian society and culture have been strikingly different from the society and culture of Western Europe, where modern science was born, and those differences have influenced not only the organizational and economic framework of Russian and Soviet science, but also the scientific theories themselves. The intellectual pathways of many areas of Russian and Soviet science are dissimilar from those in Western Europe and the United States. The history of Russian and Soviet science is a story of remarkable achievements and frustrating failures. That history is presented here in a comprehensive form, and explained in terms of its social and political context. Major sections include the tsarist period, the impact of the Russian Revolution, the relationship between science and Soviet society, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual scientific disciplines. The book also discusses the changes brought to science in Russia and other republics by the collapse of communism in the late 198Os and early 199Os.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a splendid work, a breathtaking synthesis that is at once erudite and accessible, illuminating and a pleasure to read." Daniel J. Kevles

"Loren Graham's informative history...leaves one wondering how science could function at all....The remaining, very open, question is: How well will a newly freed Russian science survive the removal of the Soviet hand that nourished and battered it?" New York Times Book Review

"The premier historian of the subject here explores for the general reader how Russian politics, economics and society have shaped the nature and direction of Russian science....In spare and accessible form, Graham offers both a broad, insightful social and political history of Russia and science as well as much food for thought about the general consequences of the national context within which science grows." Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

"...recommended to those who would like to know more about the world which nurtured scientists such as Mendeleev and Sakharov, but which also saw ideology used to suppress whole areas of scientific research." Robert Lewis, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Writing on ideology and science, Graham provides a very good short summary of the principles of dialectical materialism relevant to science. He is also convincing when he argues that many good scientists took Marxism very seriously and used it in their work." Alexei Kojevnikov, Science

"An excellent, extremely readable introduction to the history of Russian and Soviet science and technology by an authority in the field." The New York Public Library

"Graham is one of our foremost students of the history of Russian science and this volume reflects a nearly unparalleled familiarity with all its aspects....It would be difficult to imagine a richer account of the subject in the space allotted. Often reviews declare that everyone in the field must read the given book; in this case it is the truth." Donald W. Treadgold, Slavic Review

"...well written, frequently insightful, and firmly grounded in the scholarly literature....This new social history will surely add much to an already complex and dramatic tale." Daniel P. Todes, American Historical Review

"...likely to remain an important scholarly landmark for years to come." Yakov Rabkin. Isis

"Written for the well-informed general reader, it contains much for the expert as well...Erudite in both Rissian and scientific history, Graham also writes gracefully. The book provides an easy and clear discussion of an intricate and complex subject. Whether you read one or many books about Russian science, this one is a must." Can Slavonic Papers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521245661
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/1993
  • Series: Cambridge History of Science Series
  • Pages: 351
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I The tsarist period
1 Russian science before 1800 9
2 Science in nineteenth-century Russia 32
3 Russian intellectuals and Darwinism 56
Pt. II Russian science and a Marxist revolution
4 The Russian Revolution and the scientific community 79
5 The role of dialectical materialism: The authentic phase 99
6 Stalinist ideology and the Lysenko affair 121
Pt. III Science and Soviet society
7 Soviet attitudes toward the social and historical study of science 137
8 Knowledge and power in Russian and Soviet society 156
9 The organizational features of Soviet science 173
Conclusions 197
Appendix. The strengths and weaknesses of Russian and Soviet science
Appendix Chapter A: The physical and mathematical sciences 207
Appendix Chapter B: The biological sciences, medicine, and technology 235
Notes 261
Bibliographic essay 293
Index 307
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