Everyday Life and the "Reconstruction" of Soviet Russia During and After the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948

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Everyday Life and the Reconstruction of Soviet Russia During and After the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948 reminds us of how little we know about the end of the war and the immediate post-war era in the Soviet Union. Jones uses the case of Rostov-on-Don, totally devastated by the vast battles that raged around it, to reveal how people and party responded to the grim task that confronted them after the German forces were expelled. Society and state both strived to rebuild but comprehended the process differently. In the official reconstruction mythology, state and party leaders portrayed themselves as a vanguard, whereas local populations, mostly workers, saw them as a privileged elite. The chapters revolve around these conflicting interpretative ideologies, as expressed through official public sources, internal documents, police reports on the population, and interviews and memoirs. What emerges is a portrayal, compelling and persuasive, of the physical realities of rebuilding the infrastructures of modern life and the ways various elements of society perceived the process. The author makes a strong case for identifying a unified period, the reconstruction, as every bit as important in our understanding of Soviet history as the NEP or The First Five-Year Plan, not only due to its uniqueness but also due to the discursive weight the regime placed on it. Jones' study will help define our approaches to chronicling post-war Soviet life, the most exciting new field in Russian historiography.

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About the Author:

Jeffrey W. Jones is Associate Professor of Russian/Soviet history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Jones effectively uses the history of a small place to ask and answer big questions of great importance to the field of Soviet history.... Jones weaves a mass of fragmentary evidence into such coherent and seamless accounts of everyday life and its travails between 1943-48 that one might not realize the remarkable detective work necessary to reconstruct even the simplest narrative. Jones has produced a body of work that constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of the social and political history of the era of Soviet post-war reconstruction in general and the study of working-class consciousness in the late Stalin era in particular. --Dr. Michael C. Hickey, Professor of History, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

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