The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

Overview

Stalin ordered his execution, but here Peter Palchinsky has the last word. Palchinsky tells of Soviet technology and industry, the mistakes he condemned in his lifetime, the corruption and collapse he predicted, the ultimate price paid for silencing those who were not afraid to speak out. The story of this visionary engineer's life and work, as Graham tells it, is also the story of the Soviet Union's industrial promise and failure.
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Overview

Stalin ordered his execution, but here Peter Palchinsky has the last word. Palchinsky tells of Soviet technology and industry, the mistakes he condemned in his lifetime, the corruption and collapse he predicted, the ultimate price paid for silencing those who were not afraid to speak out. The story of this visionary engineer's life and work, as Graham tells it, is also the story of the Soviet Union's industrial promise and failure.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After Soviet engineer Peter A. Palchinsky (1875-1929) was arrested in 1928, his voluminous files of correspondence and professional papers were carted away by the secret police to languish unknown in a Moscow archive until 1991 when Graham, a well-known historian of Russian science and technology, rediscovered them. Two chapters of this work cover Palchinsky's life and professional accomplishments; three show how Soviet engineering is the poorer for not adopting his ideas of ``humanitarian engineering.'' A graduate of the St. Petersburg Institute of Mining, Palchinsky was always interested in the political and economic facets of any construction project (such as housing and living conditions of the crew members). His ideas led to trouble with both the tsarist and Soviet governments. Some of the spectacular failures of Soviet construction (including Chernobyl and the steel complex at Magnitogorsk) Graham blames on Stalin's propensity for building the biggest, regardless of the human aspects. This short, specialized monograph belongs in both engineering and area studies collections.-- Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Booknews
Graham tells the story of the ill-fated, visionary Soviet engineer, Peter Palchinsky--a story that is also the story of the Soviet Union's industrial promise and failure, and a cautionary tale about the fate of engineering that disregards social and human issues. Includes a 16-page glossy photographic insert. By no means for engineers only. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674354364
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Russian Research Center Studies Series
  • Pages: 154
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Loren Graham is Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Table of Contents

Prologue
1 The Radical Engineer 1
2 From Political Prisoner to Soviet Consultant 23
3 Early Soviet Industrialization 49
4 Technocracy, Soviet Style 67
5 Contemporary Engineering Failures 81
Epilogue: The Ghost of Peter Palchinsky 99
Notes 109
Acknowledgments 123
Index 125
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