Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (Oxford Oral History Series)

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9780199311231: Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (Oxford Oral History Series)
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Donald Raleigh's Soviet Baby Boomers traces the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of Russia into a modern, highly literate, urban society through the fascinating life stories of the country's first post-World War II, Cold War generation.

For this book, Raleigh has interviewed sixty 1967 graduates of two "magnet" secondary schools that offered intensive instruction in English, one in Moscow and one in provincial Saratov. Part of the generation that began school the year the country launched Sputnik into space, they grew up during the Cold War, but in a Soviet Union increasingly distanced from the excesses of Stalinism. In this post-Stalin era, the Soviet leadership dismantled the Gulag, ruled without terror, promoted consumerism, and began to open itself to an outside world still fearful of Communism. Raleigh is one of the first scholars of post-1945 Soviet history to draw extensively on oral history, a particularly useful approach in studying a country where the boundaries between public and private life remained porous and the state sought to peer into every corner of people's lives. During and after the dissolution of the USSR, Russian citizens began openly talking about their past, trying to make sense of it, and Raleigh has made the most of this new forthrightness. He has created an extraordinarily rich composite narrative and embedded it in larger historical narratives of Cold War, de-Stalinization, "overtaking" America, opening up to the outside world, economic stagnation, dissent, emigration, the transition to a market economy, the transformation of class, ethnic, and gender relations, and globalization.

Including rare photographs of daily life in Cold War Russia, Soviet Baby Boomers offers an intimate portrait of a generation that has remained largely faceless until now.

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About the Author:


Donald J. Raleigh is Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of Revolution on the Volga, Experiencing Russia's Civil War, and Russia's Sputnik Generation.

Review:


"A landmark...[Raleigh] has created a sophisticated and nuanced cultural history. His book, eschewing cliche about the necessary and inevitable stasis of Russian society or its long-term yen for authoritarianism, at the same time puts forward thought-provoking, and at times unexpected, material about the lasting and deep impact of the late Soviet era on the present day."--English Historical Review


"[A] unique, revealing oral history of the Cold War generation...This well-crafted book is required reading for anyone interested in understanding changing Soviet attitudes during the ear of late socialism...Essential."--CHOICE


"This book is a collective biography that will fascinate its subjects' grandchildren, to whom the world it depicts will seem like a distant planet."--Foreign Affairs


"What was it like to grow up under Communism and to live through and beyond its collapse? Soviet baby boomers tell their illuminating stories to an American historian of their country in this valuable book. Both Russia specialists and general readers will find it fascinating."--William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era


"Donald Raleigh's book creates a fascinating portrait of an elite group within the last true Soviet generation. Born after Stalin's great war, these people saw the best the Soviet system could provide and they witnessed its fall. Their story is a poignant but surprising one, a glimpse into another world, and Raleigh tells it with humanity and admirable tact. An authentic and perceptive oral history whose warmth and color make this work a model of its kind."--Catherine Merridale, author of Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia


"The book offers a valuable, and rare, comparative perspective by putting together respondents from the capital and 'closed' city. Their stories highlight many momentous differences in Soviet life experience that were determined by geographic location...This is a hugely valuable set of personal windows on grand--and less grand--historical events. It shows us how highly educated urbanites from a particular generation remember their country's passage from Stalinism to its version of capitalism. As Raleigh keenly observes, this tells us much about Russia today."--The Russian Review


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