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Synthetic Socialism: Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic Hardcover – January 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0807832387 ISBN-10: 0807832383 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


Refreshing and original. . . . Provides a sophisticated and important discussion of how power worked in socialist Germany.--Journal of Modern History

Describes the penetrating changes to the everyday world in exemplary fashion.--Deutschland Archiv

Rubin's study stands out as a highly original and effective contribution to our understanding of the GDR in its middle period….a model for future studies.--Bulletin of the German Historical Institute

An innovative contribution to the history of consumption in the GDR.--Technology and Culture

A brilliant analysis of how plastics are . . . essential to understanding East German Socialism, the nature of its dictatorship, and even Germany's role in the cold war. . . . An outstanding contribution to East German and consumer studies, particularly in its examination of GDR society. This exceptional book presents a bold argument for understanding socialism and its legacy through material culture.--Bookforum

Outstanding. . . . Valuably extends our understanding of postwar modernity and East German socialism. . . . A lively, methodologically robust, and elegantly written book that should be read by all who seek cultural and historical insight into the logic, function, and legacy of former East Germany.--German Studies Review

[An] innovative and well-structured study. . . . An original, well-written, and pleasingly presented book that makes an important contribution to the secondary literature on the GDR.--Journal of Central European History

Provides a novel and informative avenue to understanding the relationship between the East German people and their government.--Choice

A welcome addition to a growing body of literature seeking to explore the changing meanings and ways in which the East German world was constructed.--American Historical Review


Well researched and well organized, Synthetic Socialism explores important aspects of the history of the German Democratic Republic from a novel and very fruitful perspective. It complements a number of other studies on GDR politics, economy, technology, and culture by integrating the history of high politics and culture with analysis of social change at the grassroots level.--Ray Stokes, director of the Centre for Business History, University of Glasgow, and author of Constructing Socialism: Technology and Change in East Germany, 1945-1990

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