Witness to Disintegration: Provincial Life in the Last Year of the USSR


An American scholar's first-hand story of provincial life in the USSR just before the coup.
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An American scholar's first-hand story of provincial life in the USSR just before the coup.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The first Fulbright Scholar at Kazan State University in the Tatar Autonomous Republic, Hixson, who teaches history at the University of Akron in Ohio, and is the author of George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast , wanted to experience the society ``from the bottom up.'' So, during his 10 months in the former Soviet Union, from October 1990 to July 1991, he ``went native.'' Or so he thinks. Like the people among whom he lived, he may have suffered from the defitsit (lack of goods), but with a monthly salary of 705 rubles, which allowed him to shop in the private sector, and with his American passport, which permitted him to jump to the front of the queues at the state stores, he was less taxed than his colleagues, whose monthly salaries averaged 300 rubles. Hixson's biggest problem, however, seems to have been with women. As he tells it, he had a dreadful time disengaging from female pursuers who viewed him as a ticket to the West. Sounding smug and self-congratulatory, Hixson remains self-absorbed throughout this memoir, even as he discusses rationing, the people's turn toward religion and the racism he found. (May)
Library Journal
Hixson (history, Univ. of Akron) spent ten months from September 1990 until July 1991 as a Fulbright scholar at Kazan State University, located 450 miles east of Moscow in the Tatar Autonomous Republic. This nonacademic account of his experiences in the Soviet Union is full of familiar stories of the petty Soviet bureaucracy, the hazards of communal apartments, and the agonies of standing in endless lines to obtain the daily necessities. Upon his arrival, Hixson could see that the country was in complete disarray and could sense the deperation of the people: the elaborate Lenin Museum in Kazan was virtually empty every day, while the lines at McDonald's stretched as far as the eye could see. Throughout his year, he met many Soviets who displayed both the best (sharing in adversity) and worst (seeing him as a ticket to America) sides of the Russian character. Recommended for general international affairs collections.-- Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584652366
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 American Boy, American Joy 1
Ch. 2 Disarray, Disillusion, and the Defitsit 11
Ch. 3 Breaking with Tania 25
Ch. 4 The Rhythm of Provincial Life 37
Ch. 5 White Russians, War Memorials, and Religious Revival 53
Ch. 6 Winter of War and Reaction 73
Ch. 7 Godfathers and Gopniki 88
Ch. 8 Education in Decline 100
Ch. 9 The Rebirth of Tatarstan 116
Ch. 10 Men, Women, Sex, and the Family 132
Ch. 11 The Long Road Home 148
Epilogue 169
Glossary 175
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