The Stalin Era

The Stalin Era

The Stalin Era

The Stalin Era


This book provides a wide-ranging history of every aspect of Stalin's dictatorship over the peoples of the Soviet Union. Drawing upon a huge array of primary and secondary sources, The Stalin Era is a first-hand account of Stalinist thought, policy and and their effects. It places the man and his ideology into context both within pre-Revolutionary Russia, Lenin's Soviet Union and post-Stalinist Russia. The Stalin Era examines:
• collectivisation
• industrialisation
• terror
• government
• the Cult of Stalin
• education and Science
• family
• religion: The Russian Orthodox Church
• art and the state.


The revolution that Stalin launched at the end of the 1920s eventually transformed the Soviet Union into a superpower. Yet, as has often happened in Russian history, the population endured great hardship as the state expanded and grew powerful. How did this happen? What were the origins of Stalin’s extraordinary personal dictatorship? How did the wider Soviet population come to participate in Stalin’s terror? What was the fate of education, the family, religion and the arts in the Stalin era? How did the Stalin regime mobilise the Soviet population during the Second World War? This book is a resource for scholars and students who seek to answer such questions.

The chapters are structured around documents, some of which have only become available since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a few of which are translated into English for the first time. Documents include speeches, party and government resolutions, NKVD reports, newspaper articles, academic works, letters, diaries, memoirs, novels and poetry. There are a significant number of visual sources, relating to the art and propaganda of the period. Sources are always placed in their historical context. Cross-references have been added to the text to suggest documents that can usefully be compared with one another, but readers are also advised to make good use of the index to locate comparative material. While each chapter is devoted to a particular topic, documents on themes like nationalism, propaganda and popular opinion run through the whole text. Reference is made throughout to secondary literature and relevant historiographical debates, and Chapter 1 contains a selection of extracts from important secondary sources. Students can use the book as a pointer to the most recent research in the field.

The book embraces political, social, cultural and intellectual history. Scholarship on the Stalin era, in concentrating on one or another of these aspects of Soviet history, sometimes lacks a broader perspective. This book attempts to offer a wider synthesis. There were, of course, limits to what could be included. Unfortunately, there was no room for a separate chapter on foreign policy, and the book does not do justice to the extraordinary ethnic diversity of the Soviet Union under Stalin. Nevertheless, the book remains broad in its scope and ambition. While it can be used simply for reference purposes, it can also be read in its entirety as an attempt to capture the ‘total history’ of the period. Scholars and students are thus encouraged to reflect on a wide range of subjects; in a world of increased specialisation, there is still room for the generalist.

Philip Boobbyer Canterbury, April 2000 . . .

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