Category Archives: Cold War

History in the Crimea & Ukraine Today

History is being blithely tossed about these days by everyone from Vladimir Putin himself to Sarah Palin and John McCain. What is the real story? Is there a real story? To answer that question, I invited two eminent historians – … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Crimea, Current events in the Putin Era, Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Russia in World History, Russian History in Popular Culture, Teaching Russian History, Transnational History, Ukraine, Uncategorized, World War II | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Russian Space History — Dreams in Orbit

In an oft-quoted remark, Svetlana Boym asserted that “Soviet children of the 1960s did not dream of becoming doctors and lawyers, but cosmonauts (or, if worse came to worst, geologists.” 1 This illustration from a December 1960 issue of the … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Gender and Sexuality, Russian Space History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight | 3 Comments

“Brezhnev’s hospitality was effusive, if unpredictable…”

The words in the title of this post come from a description by Donald M. Kendall, CEO of PepsiCo from 1971 to 1986. Kendall met Brezhnev in August 1973 in the Soviet Union and reported back on his meeting to … Continue reading

Posted in Archives, Cold War, Detente, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | Leave a comment

Child of the Cold War

Like most people studying Russian history, I’m sure, I’ve been asked many times what drew me to the subject in the first place. I give different answers depending on my mood and the person asking. They include: TV coverage of … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Historiography | 3 Comments

Call for a Wider Perspective

Many thanks to Alexander Geppert, a leading figure in the history of space flight and European culture, for this review of two recent volumes on Russian space flight and culture (in which I and fellow blogger Asif Siddiqi have essays). … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Historiography, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Soviet Baby Boomers – Closed Cities, CHMO and Soviet Regionalism

The very important issue addressed in Don Raleigh’s book is the relations between Moscow and provincial cities, especially between Moscow and such “closed” cities as Saratov, during late socialism.

Posted in Closed Cities, Soviet Baby Boomers | Leave a comment

Soviet Baby Boomers- What’s a generation?

I know I won’t shock anyone by admitting that I often ask myself “why?” when reading an academic monograph: why this topic, why this approach and yes, why this book? Reading Don Raleigh’s Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Nostalgia and Memory, Soviet Baby Boomers, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Soviet Baby Boomers – preliminary thoughts

I am happy to launch the fourth “blog conversation” which will be about Donald Raleigh’s recent Soviet Baby Boomers. His excavation of late Soviet society through the medium of oral history is highly readable and I will be recommending it strongly … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Nostalgia and Memory, oral history, Soviet Baby Boomers, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Age: A New Documentary

People often say we live in the “nuclear age,” but what that means is never entirely clear. A new documentary produced by a former ABC newsman captures the spirit, or rather spirits, of that era – from its beginnings in … Continue reading

Posted in Chernobyl, Cold War, Films, Post-Soviet Russia, Russia in World History, Russian Orthodoxy | 2 Comments

ZATOs In View

A few weeks ago, on March 27, I was at a reception at the Harriman Institute (for Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies) at Columbia University for the opening of a new exhibit entitled ZATO: Soviet Secret Cities During the … Continue reading

Posted in Closed Cities, Cold War, Gulag, Soviet Intelligentsia, Soviet Science, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Three Songs About Motherland

My university (California State University, Long Beach) is screening a number of documentary films about Russia this semester, including three films from the esteemed documentary film maker Marina Goldovskaya: A Taste of Freedom (1991, 46 min.), A Bitter Taste of Freedom … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Films, Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Teaching Russian History | 1 Comment

Hot-Tub Diplomacy and Star Wars

I’ve been reviewing documents from the Hoover Archives in connection with my latest project (http://russianhistoryblog.org/2011/10/transnational-history-and-space-flight/). The ones I’ve posted here, with brief commentary and historical context, concern an organization of astronauts and cosmonauts called the Association of Space Explorers, which … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Detente, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Stalin’s Daughter

The death of Svetlana Alliluyeva in a nursing home in Wisconsin brings to a close a fascinating and tragic life. The documentary film maker Lana Parshina in 2007 had the good luck of landing one of the few extensive interviews … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Films, Stalinism, Teaching Russian History | 7 Comments

A Priest Contemplates Gagarin’s Feat

Here is a painting entitled “Meditation,” which was done in 1964 by Pyotr Mikhailov. It is from the old Leningrad Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.  In it a priest … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

Transnational History and Space Flight

Having finally finished my biography of Yuri Gagarin (The Cosmonaut Who Couldn’t Stop Smiling: The Life and Legend of Yuri Gagarin, due out in March with Northern Illinois University Press) I’m trying to figure out my next project. This blog … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Russia in World History, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 13 Comments

On Monkies and Lost Colonies

Having just finished my last classes for my modern Russia survey, I wanted to share some thoughts on a documentary that I used to discuss Post-Soviet Russia. The 2008 documentary is entitled The Lost Colony. For a clip, see: http://hotdocsaudience.bside.com/2008/films/thelostcolony_hotdocs2008. … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Films, Nostalgia and Memory, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet Science | 6 Comments

YouTube of the Week – Khrushchev’s Visit to Iowa

So, this week’s YouTube of the Week is perhaps of more interest to researchers than it is to students. This is just part one of a series of videos uploaded by the Iowa State University Library’s Special Collections. They include … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Digital Russian History, Soviet Era 1917-1991, YouTube in Russian History Classes | 1 Comment

The Flight that Launched a Thousand Rumors

As I noted in my first post (“Creating Cover Stories: A National Pastime”), an intense feeling of vulnerability and insecurity had compelled the Soviets, along with Russia’s authoritarian traditions, to surround Yuri Gagarin’s flight in secrecy. But they paid for … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Some Notes from My Gagarin File

When I began my study of Yuri Gagarin many years ago, my biggest challenge, as any historian who has worked in Russian archives can appreciate, was getting access to sources. Gagarin was and remains not just a Soviet icon — … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Post-Soviet Russia, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 10 Comments

NPR Causes a Gagarin Kerfuffle

A recent controversy surrounding the biography of Yuri Gagarin, and involving NPR, highlights the gaping divide separating academic history writing and the public presentation of history. Last week Robert Krulwich, who writes on science for NPR, posted a blog based … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Soviet and Russian Space Flight, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Soviet Science | 5 Comments