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Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia is the first book devoted exclusively to popular participation in the "Great Terror," a period in which millions of people were arrested, interrogated, shot, and sent to labor camps. In the unions and the factories, repression was accompanied by a mass campaign for democracy. Party leaders urged workers to criticize and remove corrup Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia is the first book devoted exclusively to popular participation in the "Great Terror," a period in which millions of people were arrested, interrogated, shot, and sent to labor camps. In the unions and the factories, repression was accompanied by a mass campaign for democracy. Party leaders urged workers to criticize and remove corrupt and negligent officials. Workers, shop foremen, local Party members, and union leaders adopted the slogans of repression and used them, often against each other, to redress long-standing grievances. Using new, formerly secret archival sources, Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia shows how ordinary people moved in clear stages toward madness and self-destruction. Wendy Z. Goldman is a professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University. She is author of Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936 (Cambridge, 1993), winner of the Berkshire Conference Book Award, as well as Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia (Cambridge, 2002).


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Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia is the first book devoted exclusively to popular participation in the "Great Terror," a period in which millions of people were arrested, interrogated, shot, and sent to labor camps. In the unions and the factories, repression was accompanied by a mass campaign for democracy. Party leaders urged workers to criticize and remove corrup Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia is the first book devoted exclusively to popular participation in the "Great Terror," a period in which millions of people were arrested, interrogated, shot, and sent to labor camps. In the unions and the factories, repression was accompanied by a mass campaign for democracy. Party leaders urged workers to criticize and remove corrupt and negligent officials. Workers, shop foremen, local Party members, and union leaders adopted the slogans of repression and used them, often against each other, to redress long-standing grievances. Using new, formerly secret archival sources, Terror and Democracy in Stalin's Russia shows how ordinary people moved in clear stages toward madness and self-destruction. Wendy Z. Goldman is a professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University. She is author of Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936 (Cambridge, 1993), winner of the Berkshire Conference Book Award, as well as Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia (Cambridge, 2002).

35 review for Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Goldman's Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin basically combines Arch Getty's research into the centre-locality control dynamics of the early Soviet union with Robert Thurston's more cultural inquest into the lived reality of the Soviet citizens. What you end up with is a rock-solid book that is supported in equal measure by original primary sources (denouncements, union meetings, workshop floor talk,...) and the best of the revisionist school (the duo just mentioned plus Sheila Fitz Wendy Goldman's Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin basically combines Arch Getty's research into the centre-locality control dynamics of the early Soviet union with Robert Thurston's more cultural inquest into the lived reality of the Soviet citizens. What you end up with is a rock-solid book that is supported in equal measure by original primary sources (denouncements, union meetings, workshop floor talk,...) and the best of the revisionist school (the duo just mentioned plus Sheila Fitzpatrick, Oleg Khlevniuk, and so forth). Goldman's thesis is that the repression of wreckers - a uniquely ambiguous position that blurs the lines between political infiltration and economic mismanagement - was simultaneously a democratic affair, that was not just "forced" onto the workers from above, but rather actively (and, to some degree, rationally) harnessed by them. In the first instance, they pulled a The Wire season 5 on NKVD authorities to force recalcitrant union forces to improve work safety and union democracy (159); in the second instance, it became a tool to lash out at any colleague or superior who had wronged someone. As old officials were demoted and hauled off and worker social mobility soared, the distinction between "top" and "bottom" (at a local level) faded and the denunciations wrought havoc in factories and unions and the fervent "unmaskings" slowed down until Ezhov's demise under Beria signalled the end of the campaign altogether - although factory personnel, which was slow to adopt denunciations in the first place, trundled on in this manner for a while longer. To this reader, many parallels with the Chinese GPCR seem apparent. As opposed to Thurston, who focusses on the defences those of low (and hence noble) background could mount in the face of "unmasking", Goldman only details the leverage those institutionally high-up can bring to bear, painting a wholly different picture - but not negating Thurston's work. In this context, I would have liked to see more statistical data on the material impacts of the terror, its preferrential victim classes or the concrete implementation of work safety and other boons. Nonetheless, Terror and Democracy adds to the demystifying of a complex period, and is a very useful resource in anyone's historical arsenal. Recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Oksana Dudko

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    Christopher Popielarz

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    Sergey Steblyov

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