Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union
University of Pittsburgh Press 2015
New Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 14, 2016 Marshall Poe
It’s been a quarter century since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This anniversary marks a good occasion to ask a seemingly simple question: “What was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?” Was it Russia in a new wrapper? Or was it something new and unheralded in world history? Was it “Socialism in One Country?” Or was it a continent-sized vehicle for the spread of international communism? Was it ruled by a peculiar kind of “traditionalism?” Or was it a variation on a kind of typical “modernity?” In this thought-provoking collection of essays, the historian Michael David-Fox addresses these and other crucial questions about the USSR. Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) doesn’t offer simple answers. David-Fox shows again and again that easy dichotomies do little to capture the complexity of the Soviet experience. The USSR, he argues, is just not that easy to “boil down.” It was many things to many people, and continues to be so today.