This memoir by one of the foremost scholars of the Soviet period spans three continents and more than half a century―from the 1950s when Lewis Siegelbaum
's father was a victim of McCarthyism up through the implosion of the Soviet Union and beyond. Siegelbaum recreates journeys of discovery and self-discovery in the tumult of student rebellion at Columbia University during the Vietnam War, graduate study at Oxford, and Moscow at the height of détente
. His story takes the reader into the Soviet archives, the coalfields of eastern Ukraine, and the newly independent Uzbekistan.
An intellectual autobiography that is also a biography of the field of Anglophone Soviet history, Stuck on Communism: Memoir of a Russian Historian
(Northern Illinois UP, 2019) is a guide for how to lead a life on the Left that integrates political and professional commitments. Siegelbaum reveals the attractiveness of Communism as an object of study and its continued relevance decades after its disappearance from the landscape of its origin.
Through the journey of a book that is in the end a romance, Siegelbaum discovers the truth in the notion that no matter what historians take as their subject, they are always writing about themselves.
Siegelbaum is the author of books on the effort to mobilize industry in tsarist Russia during World War I (1983), the Stakhanovite movement of the 1930s (1988), the Soviet state and society in the 1920s (1994), and the award-winning Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile
(2008). He co-authored with Jim von Geldern the award-winning website “Seventeen Moments in Soviet History,” an online sourcebook used extensively to teach Soviet history, and with Leslie Page Moch Broad is My Native Land: Repertoires and Regimes of Migration in Russia’s Twentieth Century
(2014). He has edited two books and co-edited six others, most recently Empire and Belonging in the Eurasian Borderlands
(2019) with Krista Goff. His memoir, Stuck on Communism: Memoir of a Russian Historian
, is published by Northern Illinois University Press.
Steven Seegel is professor of history at University of Northern Colorado.