The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within / Edition 2

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Overview

The First Socialist Society is the compelling and often tragic history of what Soviet citizens have lived through from 1917 to the present, told with great sympathy and perception. It ranges over the changing lives of peasants, urban workers, and professionals; the interaction of Soviet autocrats with the people; the character and role of religion, law, education, and literature within Soviet society; and the significance and fate of various national groups. As the story unfolds, we come to understand how the ideas of Marxism have been changed, taking on almost unrecognizable forms by unique political and economic circumstances.

Hosking's analysis of this vast and complex country begins by asking how it was that the first socialist revolution took place in backward, autocratic Russia. Why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power and hold on to it? The core of the book lies in the years of Stalin's rule: how did he exercise such unlimited power, and how did the various strata of society survive and come to terms with his tyranny?

The later chapters recount Khrushchev's efforts to reform the worst features of Stalinism, and the unpredictable effects of his attempts within the East European satellite countries, bringing out elements of socialism that had been obscured or overlaid in the Soviet Union itself. And in the aftermath of the long Brezhnev years of stagnation and corruption, the question is posed: can Soviet society find a way to modify the rigidities inherited from the Stalinist past?

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times

The First Socialist Society...allows its readers to go far beyond Moscow and the Kremlin to take a closer look at Soviet life in historical perspective...Hosking offers a fresh—and refreshing—look at the Soviet Union in the 1980s that is both well-informed and provocative.
— W. Bruce Lincoln

Times Educational Supplement

This is a first-rate introduction to Russian history since 1917...No one reading it can fail to be impressed by its sound sense, its mature weighing up of the issues and its considered judgments. It should certainly be in the hands of everyone wishing to be informed about present-day Russia.
— Pierre Watter

Times Higher Education Supplement

Professor Hosking's lively and well-informed history of the whole period from 1917 to 1984 covers not only politics and society but also religion and the nationalities, difficult subjects which are often neglected...The outstanding merit of Professor Hosking's book...is that the author knows and understands Russians, and brings this understanding to bear on his study of history. This stimulating study...will help students to think about the significance of the Soviet experience, and to begin to appreciate what it has been like to be a Russian in this terrible and glorious century.
— R. W. Davies

Los Angeles Times - W. Bruce Lincoln
The First Socialist Society...allows its readers to go far beyond Moscow and the Kremlin to take a closer look at Soviet life in historical perspective...Hosking offers a fresh--and refreshing--look at the Soviet Union in the 1980s that is both well-informed and provocative.
Times Educational Supplement - Pierre Watter
This is a first-rate introduction to Russian history since 1917...No one reading it can fail to be impressed by its sound sense, its mature weighing up of the issues and its considered judgments. It should certainly be in the hands of everyone wishing to be informed about present-day Russia.
Times Higher Education Supplement - R. W. Davies
Professor Hosking's lively and well-informed history of the whole period from 1917 to 1984 covers not only politics and society but also religion and the nationalities, difficult subjects which are often neglected...The outstanding merit of Professor Hosking's book...is that the author knows and understands Russians, and brings this understanding to bear on his study of history. This stimulating study...will help students to think about the significance of the Soviet experience, and to begin to appreciate what it has been like to be a Russian in this terrible and glorious century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674304420
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1990
  • Edition description: First Enlarged Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 576

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Hosking is retired Professor of Russian History at the University College London.
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Table of Contents

Prefaces to the Enlarged Editions 10
Preface to the First Edition 11
1 Introduction 15
2 The October Revolution 35
3 War Communism 57
4 The Making of the Soviet Union 93
5 The New Economic Policy and Its Political Dilemmas 119
6 Revolution from Above 149
7 Stalin's Terror 183
8 Stalinist Society 205
9 Religion and Nationality under the Soviet State 227
10 The Great Fatherland War 261
11 The Last Years of Stalin 296
12 Khrushchev and De-Stalinization 326
13 Soviet Society under 'Developed Socialism' 363
14 Religion, Nationality and Dissent 402
15 The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union 446
Chronology 503
Statistical Tables 518
Bibliography 526
Index 551
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