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Constructing socialism : technology and change in East Germany 1945-1990

Stokes, Raymond G.

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ISBN 10: 0801863910 / ISBN 13: 9780801863912
Published by Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, 2000
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, xi, 260pp., very good dust-jacket, very good black hardcover, ISBN 0801863910 . Bookseller Inventory # 28899

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Constructing socialism : technology and ...

Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

About this title


With a cloud of blue smoke and a high-pitched whine, Trabant cars carried many East Germans westward after the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. The car's 1950s design, obvious environmental incorrectness, and all-plastic body became a symbol of the technological limitations of East German communism. Though unfair and oversimplified, the famous image from the early 1990s of the rear of a Trabi protruding from a dumpster seemed to imply that the car, like the system which had produced it, had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

But as Raymond G. Stokes points out in Constructing Socialism, eastern Germany in 1945 was one of the most highly developed, technologically sophisticated industrial areas in the world. Despite the evident failings of its technology by the late 1980s, the German Democratic Republic maintained advanced technological capability in selected areas. If the system itself was fundamentally flawed, what explains successes under the very same system? Why could the successes not be repeated in other areas? And if examples of success are so isolated, how did East Germany last as long as it did?

To answer these questions, Constructing Socialism examines the system of innovation that delivered some minimal level of technological excellence into the East German economy and industry. Focusing on success rather than failure, Stokes offers a general history of East German technology between 1945 and 1990. He combines an overview and synthesis of emerging scholarly literature with an examination of newly opened archival material in order to explore issues that include automation, standardization, technology transfer and technological tourism, and espionage. Constructing Socialism investigates specific technologies and machines but also emphasizes the people who designed and implemented them and the cultural context and meanings of technological systems.

About the Author:

Raymond G. Stokes is a reader in the Department of Economic History at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Divide and Prosper and Opting for Oil.

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