Category Archives: Soviet Era 1917-1991

Death and Redemption – Responses, but not answers

Thanks to Golfo Alexopoulos and Dan Healey for joining the conversation. It is pleasing to see that not only are new young scholars writing about the Gulag, but some of the best established scholars like Golfo and Dan have turned … Continue reading

Posted in Death and Redemption, Gulag, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Death and Redemption – Reforging, Reeducation, Redemption

So many interesting posts in this discussion, I feel like I could write an entire article responding to all  of it. Here, I want to try to address some issues brought up initially by Jeff Hardy and in the comments … Continue reading

Posted in Death and Redemption, Gulag, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 3 Comments

Death and Redemption – On Images

First, I must thank my colleague and co-blogger Andrew Jenks for setting up this blog conversation here at Russian History Blog. As an academic author, I have found the wait for journal reviews of my book to be excruciating. The … Continue reading

Posted in Death and Redemption, Gulag, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Stalinism, Teaching Russian History | 3 Comments

Death and Redemption—Theory and Practice

Though still a relatively young scholar (nine years since receiving his Ph.D.), Steve Barnes can rightfully be considered the dean of Gulag studies in the United States.  From his provocative 2003 dissertation, to his Gulag: Many Days Many Lives website, … Continue reading

Posted in Death and Redemption, Gulag, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Stalinism | 10 Comments

The Stalin Cult – More (Clearly, I hope) on Thinking Visually

I hope I made it clear that I consider The Stalin Cult an excellent work of political and institutional history, from which I learned a great deal about a subject I care about. But my objections to its treatment of … Continue reading

Posted in Blog Conversations, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Soviet Intelligentsia, Stalinism, The Stalin Cult | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Stalin Cult – A Blog Conversation

Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-Il, Joseph Stalin. The mere sound of these names conjures up mental images of the personality cult–films, monuments, renamed cities, prose, poetry, and, perhaps most of all, portraiture all designed to raise a … Continue reading

Posted in Blog Conversations, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Stalinism, The Stalin Cult | 1 Comment

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

Desert of Forbidden Art

This 2010 documentary, which has deservedly gotten a lot of press, is well worth showing to students (http://desertofforbiddenart.com/). It follows a treasure trove of Russian art stashed in a remote desert region of Uzbekistan known as Karakalpakstan, where the art … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 1 Comment

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

Interview on Death and Redemption

Princeton University Press published my book, Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society in May. I had the great pleasure to talk about the book with Sean Guillory (of Sean’s Russia Blog) at New Books in … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Gulag, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | Leave a comment

The Russian Concept?

I’ve just seen an engaging 2010 documentary entitled the “Russian Concept” (for a trailer see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-l66s2Fglk). Based on interviews with artists, art collectors and esteemed art historians, the documentary provides a short and entertaining survey of art little known to … Continue reading

Posted in Films, Post-Soviet Russia, Russian and Soviet Art, Soviet Era 1917-1991 | 4 Comments

Cartier-Bresson in Moscow

Over the Easter weekend, I was reading The Guardian and came across a full-page photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson on a visit to the Soviet Union in 1954. This stunning photograph was used the following year as the front cover … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Nostalgia and Memory, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Teaching Russian History, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Rapping about the Divided Memory of Victory

Today marks the 66th anniversary of Victory Day. As Sean Guillory notes in a must-read post, victory, like so many other aspects of 20th century east European history, is remembered quite differently in many post-Soviet and post-Communist states. He writes: … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Russian History, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Teaching Russian History, World War II, YouTube in Russian History Classes | 2 Comments

Chernobyl at 25

The recent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi brought the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown back into an often forgetful public consciousness. Although we will no doubt soon forget these events again, especially amidst the insane amount of coverage focused on royal … Continue reading

Posted in Chernobyl, Digital Russian History, Soviet Era 1917-1991, Teaching Russian History | 5 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