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Synthetic Socialism: Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic 1st Edition

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0807832387
ISBN-10: 0807832383
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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


Rubin makes a major contribution to the historiography of communism through an innovative approach to consumer culture. His breezy writing style makes the subject come alive. A very fine book.--Konrad H. Jarausch, author of The Rush to Unite Germany

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832387
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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This reads a lot like a polished doctoral thesis. As such, at times it gets bogged down in itself, and delves a bit further than it might really need to into the underlying chemical processes that drove the DDR's plastic production industry. Still, there are worthy and insightful observations here, too, and as an academic book, it is no worse (but alas no better) than a lot of what is out there. Be warned, though, this is really for the scholar, and a deeply-read scholar of East German history might not find a whole lot new, here, either.
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