Reexamining the Soviet Experience: Essays in Honor of Alexander Dallin

By Tomazsewski, Fiona K | Canadian Slavonic Papers, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Reexamining the Soviet Experience: Essays in Honor of Alexander Dallin


Tomazsewski, Fiona K, Canadian Slavonic Papers


David Holloway and Norman Naimark, eds. Reexamining the Soviet Experience: Essays in Honor of Alexander Dallin. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996. vii, 279 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $56.00, cloth.

The collapse of communism in the Soviet Union has presented extraordinary opportunities for researchers and posed many questions. The eleven history and political science essays appearing in this collection were designed to take advantage of this extraordinary opening up of a hitherto closed society. Alexander Dallin (1924-2000), the son of the Menshevik scholar David Dallin, was Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History at Stanford University. He began his scholarly career working on the Harvard Interview Project, shortly after World War Two. His most influential work, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945, was published in 1957. Throughout his writings Dallin always considered the interconnections between domestic politics and foreign policy, an approach which has been widespread in pre-WWI historiography but not as common in the study of Soviet foreign policy. The comprehensive bibliography at the end of Reexamining the Soviet Experience reveals how substantial and influential Dallin's writings have been.

The same can not be said of all the essays published in his honour. Some of the pieces are strong, worthwhile scholarly contributions, in particular the ones by William Zimmerman, Mark von Hagen, George W. Breslauer and Norman Naimark, while others are disappointing. Jonathan Haslam contributes an interesting piece on E.H. Carr and the politics of Soviet studies in Great Britain. Haslam is perceptive when it comes to analyzing the differences in the development of Soviet studies in Great Britain and the United States. Ronald Suny's contribution, "Revision and Retreat in the Historiography of 1917: Social History and its Critics," does not live up to its enticing title. In fact much of the essay is a vehement critique of Richard Pipes' The Russian Revolution. Suny is entitled to a critical opinion of Pipes. However, his hastily revised conference paper is not a reexamination of the Russian Revolution along the lines of Frangois Furet's seminal study of the French Revolution, as Suny seems to imply in his introduction.

Mark von Hagen describes the paradigm of militarized socialism-"the proletarian Sparta." This article is a concise, well-written survey, from the revolution to the post-Gorbachev period, of the relationship between the position of the army in Soviet society and reformist tendencies. Bertrand M. Patenaude reconstructs an interesting account of the opinions of James P. Goodrich, former Governor of Indiana and Special Investigator for the American Relief Administration (ARA) in the USSR, on the proper course for American policy toward the fledgling Bolshevik regime. According to Patenaude, Goodrich was the most influential American official on Russian policy because of his access to ARA director and Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. …

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