This study is the first of its kind: a street-level inside account of what Stalinism meant to the masses of ordinary people who lived it. Stephen Kotkin was the. Kotkin argues that Stalinism offered itself as an opportunity for enlightenment. Thematically organized and closely focused, Magnetic Mountain signals the. This study is a street-level inside account of what Stalinism meant to the masses of ordinary people who lived it. Stephen Kotkin was the first American in
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Preview — Magnetic Mountain by Stephen Kotkin. Stalinism as a Civilization by Stephen Kotkin. This study is the first of its kind: Stephen Kotkin was the first American in mountai years to be allowed into Magnitogorsk, a city built in response to Stalin’s decision to transform the predominantly agricultural nation into a “country of metal.
Kotkin argues that Stalinism offered itself as an opportunity for enlightenment. The utopia it proffered, socialism, would be a new civilization based on the repudiation of capitalism. The extent to which the citizenry participated in this scheme and the relationship of the state’s ambitions to kottkin dreams of ordinary people form the substance of this fascinating story.
Kotkin tells it deftly, with a remarkable understanding of the social and political system, as well as a keen instinct for the details of everyday life.
Kotkin depicts a whole range of life: Thematically kotkn and closely focused, Magnetic Mountain signals the beginning of a new stage in the writing of Soviet social history.
Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization
Paperbackpages. Published February 27th by University of California Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Magnetic Mountainplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Jan 02, Frank Stein rated it it was amazing.
In this book Stephen Kotkin does what might seem impossible. He immerses the reader in the complete world of a Stalinist boomtown in the s. The people in the new city of Magnitogorsk do not come off as Bolshevik caricatures or Soviet myrmidons, but as real humans facing normal and abnormal problems with all the intelligence and grace they can muster.
Taking advantage of the full range of published and unpublished Soviet sources, he details what everyday life looked like to people living unde In this book Stephen Kotkin does what might seem impossible. Taking advantage of the full range of published and unpublished Soviet sources, he details what everyday life looked like to people living under one of the most oppressive dictatorships known to man. Kotkin does not dismiss the horrors of Stalinism, but he does argue with the “totalitarian” interpretation of it, since he shows the innumerable ways individuals escaped its totalizing grasp.
For instance, he shows how much of the economy was really a “shadow” economy, where purloined factory parts or cloth went to either independently fulfill the impossible plans of Moscow or into private production that was resold in the official “markets” or even by door-to-door peddling. He shows that despite the attempts by famed German planner Ernst May to design a perfect new “linear town,” the city arose haphazardly wherever workers could pitch tents or mud huts.
Despite the harsh censorship, the Magnitgorsk Worker newspaper catalogued many of the failures of local elites, including the inability of the Steel Factories KPU living quarters unit to maintain their new barracks, the crime rampant in the “Convict Labor Colony,” mistakes in completing the city blast furnace and so on. In a way, pushing a recalcitrant Communist system involved constant criticism which is a cornucopia for a researcher. Of course such criticism was usually leveled at those already pushed out of the system or the Party.
The book also offers the best description I’ve read of the Terror. Kotkin shows that the division between an elite Communist Party, whose job was to maintain ideological uniformity and place personnel in appropriate “nomenklatura” positions, and an actual state system, which did the work of running factories and homes and police and so on, led to irreconcilable conflicts. From onwards the Party engaged in numerous internal “purges” and “verification” campaigns which aimed to expel corrupt party officials or merely those with a false “worker” pedigree, and which spread to failures in state production and soon involved the NKVD the “state” system which tended to enforce party dictates.
Gradually, internal party purges ate up the entire country and led to a classic witch-hunt atmosphere. By detailing everything from the shrine-like “Red Corners” in the city barracks to the Magnit Cinema showing movies such as “Party Card” and of course Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” to the craze over “French Wrestling” at the local circus, Kotkin enriches our view of life and politics in an otherworldly time and place.
It’s hard to forget. Jan 10, morning Os rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a phenomenal work!!
Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization by Stephen Kotkin
It deserves more than 5 stars. I read this book again while I was doing research on Japanese fascism in s, and it gave me great insight on the problem of ‘agency’ of ordinary people under a totalitarian state. I really liked the way in magnetci Kotkin deploys the Foucauldian ‘subjectivity’ analysis yet goes beyond and shows that the state and the people were actually not playing the same game of ‘indoctrination vs resistance. The case itself– the creation of an industrial city in the middle of nowhere, is absolutely an amazing story.
And to our convenience, the case works as a microcosm of the USSR that shows the logic of the state and people’s lives under Stalinism. His writing is very effective as well. I recommend this to everyone who likes history. Feb 27, Omar Ali rated it really liked it. A detailed look at how one windswept mountain of ore in the freezing steppe was transformed into the largest metallurgical complex in the nascent Soviet Union.
Jul 03, Nathan rated it really liked it. A fascinating text that illustrates the project of building a socialist society under Stalinist terms, and how this process was highly experimental and often contradictory. The text suffers from some redundancy, especially in the final chapter, but it is still a worthwhile read that provides an expert analysis of a complicated historical period, all through the microcosm of a planned mining town. Oct 23, Albert rated it it was amazing Shelves: Monumental in every sense of the word.
An amazing book, it redefines Stalinism in a subtle and penetrating way. The narrative arch is great, and the chapters are all gripping. Dec 17, Grant rated it it was amazing. A highly detailed yet broadly conceived study of Magnitogorsk, a Soviet steel complex and city created on the steppes of Russia as both a model socialist community and an industrial powerhouse.
Kotkin’s incredibly thorough research allows him to tell the story of Magnitogorsk from both above – as it was planned, designed, ootkin intended – and from below – how the actual workers and citizens coped with life. Kotkin uses the local study to help explain the broader strokes of Soviet history, and is f A highly detailed yet broadly conceived study of Magnitogorsk, kohkin Soviet steel complex and city created on the steppes of Russia as both a model socialist community and an industrial powerhouse.
Kotkin uses the local study to help explain the broader strokes of Soviet history, and is far from afraid of an historiographic fight. Apr 08, Tessa mavnetic it did not like it.
This book made me want to stab myself in the eye with a sewing needle. Kotkin spent some pages saying what he could have said in it’s thick with repetition and half of the book was also endnotes pages His main focus was using the city of Magnitogorsk as a case study to prove the theories of other Stalinist historians wrong. I’m not too big on Stalinist history anyway, so perhaps that was a problem as well. View all 3 comments. Sep 28, AskHistorians added it Shelves: The book takes the building of Magnitogorsk, an industrial city built from scratch, as a way to show how people learned to “speak Bolshevik” and thus both survive within and use the regime; thus it complicates hugely the usual top-down view of the Soviet Union.
Apr 04, Katie koktin it liked it. This mouhtain is what happens when you are one of the first historians allowed into the archives after the fall of the “iron curtain. Jul 26, Robert Davis added it.
This is a phenomenal study of a Soviet built industrial town. It gives an account of mountaij real lives, the failures and few successes of this Socialist attempt to emulate the corporate town of America. Dec 15, Amanda rated it really liked it. Interesting, but a bit pretentious. Second part is much better than the first, but the writing style is overly complicated. The content has become somewhat old-fashioned by now.
Jan 04, Nicola rated it it was amazing. Nov 08, Ben rated it really liked it. Unique, extensively detailed history of Magnitogorsk. Oct 19, Shane Avery rated it it was amazing Shelves: Apr 04, Ottilie added it. Sep 24, Kathryn rated it liked it. Mountajn rough to get through. Mike Burton rated it it was monutain Oct 06, Katia Shulga rated it it was amazing Apr 16, Todd rated it it was amazing Sep 27, Bob rated it it was amazing Feb 13, Matt rated it really liked it Jan 26, mangetic Josh rated it it was amazing Sep 25, Bob rated it it was amazing May 07, Ben rated it really liked it Jun 05, AK rated it it was amazing Jul 11, Michelle rated it it was amazing Mar 30, Maelia rated it liked it Oct 12, There are no discussion topics on this book mluntain.