Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia

Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia

Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia

Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia

Synopsis

Bitter Waters is Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov's eyewitness account of life in the Soviet Union during the tumultuous 1930s, a time when titanic forces were shaping the course of Russian history. Forced collectivization, Five Year Plans, purges, & the phony achievements of "shock worker brigades" are only part of this story. Using this memoir of his youth to explore every aspect of Stalinist society, Andreev-Khomiakov exposes the Soviet economy to be little more than a web of corruption-a system that only functioned through bribery, barter, & brute force.

Excerpt

The late 1920s witnessed the inauguration of one of the most colossal social engineering projects ever attempted. in a little more than a decade, Josef Stalin's "revolution from above" initiated the transformation of the Soviet Union's still largely rural and illiterate society into that of a relatively modern industrial state with a powerful arms industry. This was a full-scale socioeconomic revolution, accompanied by immense suffering on the part of a populace called upon to sacrifice elementary material needs, along with many of life's other satisfactions, in the name of a better, socialist future.

To a considerable extent, Stalin was building on historical traditions and institutions already in place under his predecessors. Tsarist Russia had experienced a marked increase in industrialization after the middle of the nineteenth century. Coal and iron production rose significantly, and the Russian empire led the world in oil production by the turn of the century. European Russia's railway network was almost complete, as was the Trans-Siberian Railroad, then and now the longest railroad line in the world. the empire's great cities were deservedly world famous for their architecture, museums, and cultural life. the country's well-educated and cultivated elite now included small but rapidly growing professional and business classes. the Soviet Union under Stalin also retained several other institutions from previous eras, including a one-party system, an arbitrary judicial system, and a secret police force. Thousands of citizens had already been arrested, accused of counterrevolutionary activities, and sentenced to forced labor.

Among the Bolshevik regime's many victims was Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov, the author of these memoirs. His experiences during the first two decades of Stalin's rule provided the material for this book as well as for several other autobiographical pieces. Andreev was living in West Germanywhen he wrote the earliest of these works, having remained there after his release from a German prisoner-of-war camp at the end of World War II. All of Andreev's works were published for the relatively small readership of the Russian émigré press, and this memoir is the first of them to appear in English translation. Haunted by the traumatic events of his early manhood, Andreev would spend the last four decades of his life in the West as an editor . . .

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