The Soviet Union: A Documentary History

Article excerpt

Edward Acton and Tom Stableford. The Soviet Union: A Documentary History. 2 vols. Vol. 1: 1917-1940. Vol. 2: 1939-1991. Exeter Studies in History. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2005 and 2007, resp. xxviii, 468 pp. and xxxi, 543 pp., resp. Glossary of Russian words and acronyms. Further reading. Biographical index. Subject index. Vol. 1 : £47.50, cloth. Vols. 1 and 2: £16.99 and £14.99, paper.

This two-volume documentary collection has much to offer students of Soviet history. The result of collaboration between British scholars and their peers at the A. M. Gor'kii Urals State University, this superb work strikes a welcome balance between the usual party and state documents detailing ideological conflict, tactical manoeuvring, and repression and less familiar ones illuminating questions about religion, peasant experience, social protest, and daily life in regions beyond Moscow and Leningrad. The addition of memoirs, diaries, and letters is particularly welcome, although somewhat unevenly represented across the two volumes.

If many of the documents are new to the English-speaking world, the organizational scheme is not. Volume 1 is divided into three parts: Revolution and Civil War (1917-1921); The Period of the "New Economic Policy" (1921-1928); and Soviet Society under Stalin (1928-1940). Volume 2 devotes considerable attention to the period prior to and during World War II in its first two sections, Dealing with Hitler (1939-1941) and Invasion and the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945); two remaining sections, Stabilization and Stagnation (1945-1985) and Crisis and Collapse (1985-1991) complete the volume. Sections on the Russo-Finnish Winter War (vol. …