The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within

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Harvard University Press, 1993 - History - 570 pages
2 Reviews

The First Socialist Society is the compelling and often tragic history of what Soviet citizens have lived through from 1917 to the present, told with great sympathy and perception. It ranges over the changing lives of peasants, urban workers, and professionals; the interaction of Soviet autocrats with the people; the character and role of religion, law, education, and literature within Soviet society; and the significance and fate of various national groups. As the story unfolds, we come to understand how the ideas of Marxism have been changed, taking on almost unrecognizable forms by unique political and economic circumstances.

Hosking's analysis of this vast and complex country begins by asking how it was that the first socialist revolution took place in backward, autocratic Russia. Why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power and hold on to it? The core of the book lies in the years of Stalin's rule: how did he exercise such unlimited power, and how did the various strata of society survive and come to terms with his tyranny?

The later chapters recount Khrushchev's efforts to reform the worst features of Stalinism, and the unpredictable effects of his attempts within the East European satellite countries, bringing out elements of socialism that had been obscured or overlaid in the Soviet Union itself. And in the aftermath of the long Brezhnev years of stagnation and corruption, the question is posed: can Soviet society find a way to modify the rigidities inherited from the Stalinist past?


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Review: The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within

User Review  - Lark - Goodreads

Picked this up because I know next to nothing about Soviet history and it got decent reviews. I really recommend this book if you're starting from zero. The only problem is that it is (obviously) dated. If you want to know what happened AFTER 1985, you might need to find the sequel... Read full review


The October Revolution
War Communism
The Making of the Soviet Union
The New Economic Policy and Its Political Dilemmas
Revolution from Above
Stalins Terror
Stalinist Society
Khrushchev and DeStalinization
Soviet Society under Developed Socialism
Religion Nationality and Dissent
The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union
Statistical Tables

Religion and Nationality under the Soviet State
The Great Fatherland War
The Last Years of Stalin

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About the author (1993)

Geoffrey Alan Hosking, born April 28, 1942, in Troon, Ayrshire,Scotland, attended King's College, Cambridge, earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. He also attended St. Anthony's College, Oxford. He is professor of Russian history at the University of London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has been a visiting lecturer in political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; a research fellow at Columbia University's Russian Institute; and a visiting professor at the University of Cologne Slaviches Institute. Hosking's works include The Russian Constitutional Experiment: Government and Duma,1907-14, Beyond Socialist Realism: Soviet Fiction since "Ivan Denisovich," and The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within.

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