Donald Raleigh's Soviet Baby Boomers traces the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of Russia into a modern, highly literate, urban society through the fascinating life stories of the country's first post-World War II, Cold War generation.
For this book, Raleigh has interviewed sixty 1967 graduates of two "magnet" secondary schools that offered intensive instruction in English, one in Moscow and one in provincial Saratov. Part of the generation that began school the year the country launched Sputnik into space, they grew up during the Cold War, but in a Soviet Union increasingly distanced from the excesses of Stalinism. In this post-Stalin era, the Soviet leadership dismantled the Gulag, ruled without terror, promoted consumerism, and began to open itself to an outside world still fearful of Communism. Raleigh is one of the first scholars of post-1945 Soviet history to draw extensively on oral history, a particularly useful approach in studying a country where the boundaries between public and private life remained porous and the state sought to peer into every corner of people's lives. During and after the dissolution of the USSR, Russian citizens began openly talking about their past, trying to make sense of it, and Raleigh has made the most of this new forthrightness. He has created an extraordinarily rich composite narrative and embedded it in larger historical narratives of Cold War, de-Stalinization, "overtaking" America, opening up to the outside world, economic stagnation, dissent, emigration, the transition to a market economy, the transformation of class, ethnic, and gender relations, and globalization.
Including rare photographs of daily life in Cold War Russia, Soviet Baby Boomers offers an intimate portrait of a generation that has remained largely faceless until now.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Series:||Oxford Oral History Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
Table of Contents
1. The Real Nuclear Threat: Soviet Families in Transition
2. Overtaking America in School: Educating the Builders of Communism
3. "Unconscious Agents of Change": Soviet Childhood Creates the Cynical Generation
4. The Baby Boomers Come of Age
5. Living Soviet during the Brezhnev-Era Stagnation
6. "But then everything fell apart": Gorbachev Remakes the Soviet Dream
7. Surviving Russia's Great Depression
Conclusion: "It's they who have always held Russia together"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As one of the "Soviet baby-boomers" interviewed by the author, I¿d been dying to see the book in print. The result of this fascinating project exceeded my expectations. For me, as it is, I¿m sure, for my former classmates, it is a nostalgic trip down memory lane. For an outsider it will be an eye opener. I¿ve lived and worked in the United States for over twenty years and I know from experience that the Americans¿ view of the Soviet Union is still, by and large, incomplete, at best, or distorted, at worst. Since the end of the Cold War, there appeared quite a few informative publications about the country: its economy, culture, politics, etc. But there was (until now!) a virtual vacuum of accurate information about its people. What makes this book unique is that, drawing from the conversations with numerous Soviet baby boomers, a generation born after a devastating war, it provides a rare insight into their lives, their values and aspirations. It might come as a huge surprise to some Western readers that those were formed not only by the values instilled in them by the country they were born and lived in but also by the Western world that seemingly they were shut off from by the Iron Curtain. Why and how they had access to that world, especially during the tumultuous 60¿s, why they enthusiastically and wholeheartedly supported Gorbachev¿s ¿perestroika¿ in the 80¿s is one of the most intriguing, in my view, parts of this amazing book. American baby-boomers are in for a follow-up surprise: despite the differences, they and their Soviet counterparts have a great deal in common. A realization that, I believe, is vital in the world we live in, the world of today and tomorrow.