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The Great Urals: Regionalism and the Evolution of the Soviet System

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0801434785
ISBN-10: 0801434785
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Editorial Reviews


"This book makes an important contribution to the literature about the interwar development of the Societ political and economic system. . . . This book has been thoroughly researched and well crafted. The author and publisher should also be commended for including some good photographs of Urals leaders and industrial plants, which helpfully support the text. . . . In sum, this book will be essential for anyone concerned with the development of the Soviet political and economic system during the interwar period."―Anthony Heywood, American Historical Review

"Harris makes a powerful case for redefining the sense of center-periphery relationships and for taking Stalinist regional and interregional politics seriously."―Choice

"This study of the great Urals region by James Harris is a major contribution to the renaissance of regional studies in Soviet history. The work is based on extensive use of central and regional archives and a careful reinterpretation of long extant sources such as stenograms of party conferences and congresses."―James Hughes, Slavic Review

"His study sets a high standard for those to follow in the regionalist tendency of current historiography. . . . The book demonstrates a strength that is not indicated by the title. It is more than a history of the Urals: it explores the mighty and dynamic shape of power among the players in the center-periphery relationship Ukraine-Moscow-Urals-Western Siberia. . . . Harris's study is a pathbreaking foray into Soviet regional history. It provides us with the new insight that the dynamic policy making of the regional elites like that of the Urals lets us rethink the character of autocratic and centralist Russian history."―Eva Maria Stolbery, H-Net Reviews

"The Great Urals is an innovative and important book that no student of Soviet history will be able to ignore. James Harris's study has implications for the whole period of modern Russian history, even to the present day. One of the major discoveries in this book is that the origins of today's regionalism in the former Soviet Union can be traced to the Stalin era."―J. Arch Getty, University of California, Riverside

"In this tightly argued, well-documented examination of the role of regionalism in Soviet governance, Harris challenges prevailing notions of the unyielding power of the central state in governing the Russian periphery. He directs our attention to the ways in which regional leaders influenced policy at the top of the Soviet system. As a result, with the benefit of new and only recently available archival information, this book serves to further revise our understanding of how the Soviet system operated."―Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, Princeton University

About the Author

Harris is a lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Teesside in the United Kingdom.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (July 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801434785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801434785
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,134,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
James Harris' work is part of a trend in Russian Soviet studies, looking beyond the Kremlin's crenellations to see life in the outlying regions and republics of the empire: a seminal, painstaking glimpse at provincial politics, focusing on the Stalin era but beginning at the roots and continuing into longterm systemic implications. The author's thesis rests on the self-sabotage of the Five Year Plan's crash industrialization, its forced tempo resulting in waste, inflated cost, misallocation, overburdening of infrastructure and, finally, falsification of missed targets and goals. But rather than blame themselves for half-thought ideas and sloppy implementation, Party leaders looked for scapegoats to preserve systemic virtue. Harris' contention is that this push for crash development and hunting "wreckers" originated fully as much at the provincial level as opposed to the Center's grand planning.

All this is true, as far as it goes. Just as the Great Depression of the West and the rise of fascism revealed systemic breakdown, so did the Soviet Terror from 1936 reveal an industrial bubble as brittle as Wall Street's ponzi financial markets. But it seems Harris has gone too far the other way in discounting the external motives of the '36-'39 terror. Industrial malfunction could have been dealt with in other ways than paranoid violence. The macro-politics of the period had much to do with it.

The Great Terror period coincided with the Spanish Civil War and its example of "the fifth column" in back door collusion with fascism.
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The Great Urals: Regionalism and the Evolution of the Soviet System
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