Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union

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Harvard University Press, 2006 - History - 484 pages
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Many westerners used to call the Soviet Union "Russia." Russians too regarded it as their country, but that did not mean they were entirely happy with it. In the end, in fact, Russia actually destroyed the Soviet Union. How did this happen, and what kind of Russia emerged?

In this illuminating book, Geoffrey Hosking explores what the Soviet experience meant for Russians. One of the keys lies in messianism--the idea rooted in Russian Orthodoxy that the Russians were a "chosen people." The communists reshaped this notion into messianic socialism, in which the Soviet order would lead the world in a new direction. Neither vision, however, fit the "community spirit" of the Russian people, and the resulting clash defined the Soviet world.

Hosking analyzes how the Soviet state molded Russian identity, beginning with the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war. He discusses the severe dislocations resulting from collectivization and industrialization; the relationship between ethnic Russians and other Soviet peoples; the dramatic effects of World War II on ideas of homeland and patriotism; the separation of "Russian" and "Soviet" culture; leadership and the cult of personality; and the importance of technology in the Soviet world view.

At the heart of this penetrating work is the fundamental question of what happens to a people who place their nationhood at the service of empire. There is no surer guide than Geoffrey Hosking to reveal the historical forces forging Russian identity in the post-communist world.


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Rulers and victims: the Russians in the Soviet Union

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Ethnic Russians occupied a unique place within the Soviet Union-as Hosking's title succinctly puts it, as both its "rulers and victims." Hosking (history, University Coll. London;Russia: People and ... Read full review


Marxism and the Crisis of Russian Messianism
The Effects of Revolution and Civil War
Soviet Nationality Policy and the Russians
Two Russias Collide
Projecting a New Russia
The Great Fatherland War
The Sweet and Bitter Fruits of Victory
The Relaunch of Utopia
The Rediscovery of Russia
The Return of Politics
An Unanticipated Creation The Russian Federation

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About the author (2006)

Geoffrey Hosking is Professor of Russian History at the University College London. He is the author of The Awakening of the Soviet Union and The First Socialist Society .

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