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Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization Revised ed. Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book. The quality of writing and documentation is excellent. Readers will get a vivid sense of the Soviet experience during this period of Russian history. The underlying theme of the book is the efforts of the Soviet state to transcend capitalism and totally transform human existence. The resulting efforts to break the social mold and develop rational modes of social organization are described well. The Soviet emphasis on heavy industry, central planning, and subordination of the individual to social goals is demonstrated through close analysis of the system of factory construction, housing organization, and many aspects of daily life.Read more ›
Kotkin's work is an excellent blend of theoretical models and empirical evidence. The book, dedicated to Michel Foucault, embraces many of the suggestions proffered by the late theoretician, such as the definition of "power" as a defining rather than an oppressing "force" and the need to explore power on the micro-level. And true to form, Kotkin locates power in a wide variety of domains- from the divide between the imagined and real layout of Socialist City to a list of names and profession tacked onto the front of a workers' barrack. Kotkin convincingly demonstrates that while party ideology and administrative policy was imposed from above, it was by no means absolute. Realities within and without the "official" system created spaces that shaped resistance and defined the ways in which the individuals could utilize the to accommodate their needs/interest.Read more ›
Especially ironic is the Stalinist tone of many who oppose any view outside this strict cold war construction. Like it or not the facts are many who lived in the Soviet Union during that era believed in communism as their salvation and future. I've lived in Russia and have seen the older generation protesting in pro-Stalin demonstrations in St Petersburg's Palace Square. Stating this doesn't make Kotkin pro anything. It makes him a historian.
Kotkin's rendering of Magnitogorsk is great history. From the initial idealistic workers that established the city, he quickly shows the disillusionment that occurred when theory and practical organization clashed. Labor shortages abound in this workers paradise ironically because workers couldn't stand the conditions. Kotkin shows how internal passports and party cards gradually began to be used to make sure workers could not move freely or that party members could be monitored.
Not that all was oppression. He correctly describes how many used the opportunities that were available to proceed with gaining an education in the evening technical programs that proliferated in the Magnitogorsk community.
Kotkin does not shy away from the effects of the purges, but he does describe them as being focused particularly on party members.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you want to know how a major interior Russian city functioned (or didn't) during the Stalin era, this is the work, not only to read, but to serve as a useful reference.Published 13 months ago by John Booth
Fabulous book that is extremely well written and based on extensive research.Published 15 months ago by John A. Dalpino
I found the book insightful. Kotkin attempts to walk between the two major theses that is between a totalitarian regime and utter chaos. Read morePublished on March 3, 2013 by Chris
- originated not in Dubcek's reform Czechoslovakia, but in Stalin's USSR, says Professor Stephen Kotkin. Read morePublished on August 14, 2012 by R. L. Huff
Très bon livre, livré en bon état et rapidement. Analyse détaillée et sourcée d'une "improvisation-urbanistique". Read morePublished on November 12, 2011 by Pierre
Stephen Kotkin's "Magnetic Mountain" is a Foucault-inspired attempt at describing the civilization known as Stalinism from the 'bottom up', and to give expression to the language,... Read morePublished on April 6, 2007 by M. A. Krul
This is an incredible work of scholarship that is also incredibly entertaining. Kotkin paints a detailed portrait of life in the Soviet Union's steel city under Stalin and places... Read morePublished on September 20, 2005 by G. Brown
That's an important book on Stalinism and Soviet Union. It presents new extremely interesting and well documented information about key aspects of life and politics mainly during... Read morePublished on July 10, 2003
THIS IS the story of Magnitogorsk, an industrial city built from nothing in the Urals. Its site had long been known as Magnitnaia gora, 'magnetic mountain', because the iron ore... Read morePublished on July 31, 2001 by William Podmore