Red Arctic: Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932-1939

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Oxford University Press, Apr 9, 1998 - History - 256 pages
3 Reviews
A work of refreshing originality and vivid appeal, Red Arctic tells the story of Stalinist Russia's massive campaign to explore and develop its Northern territories during the 1930s. Author John McCannon recounts the dramatic stories of the polar expeditions--conducted by foot, ship, and plane--that were the pride of Stalinist Russia, in order to expose the reality behind them: chaotic blunders, bureaucratic competition, and the eventual rise of the Gulag as the dominant force in the North. Red Arctic also traces the development of the polar-based popular culture of the decade, making use of memoirs, films, radio broadcasts, children's books, and cultural ephemera ranging from placards to postage stamps to show how Russia's "Arctic Myth" became an integral part of the overall socialist-realist aesthetic that animated Stalinist culture throughout the 1930s.
 

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This is an absolutely fascinating insight into Stalinist propaganda and the myth of the Arctic. There could be no better introduction into how the publicity machine operated in the Soviet Union, and tne tales of exploration and endurance flights are riveting in themselves. There is so much dry literature on this period, but McCannon brings Stalin's rule to life. The aviators and explorers were hugely popular: and still are. This is not just a picturesque sidetrack, but is central to the regime's attempts to gain popularity in the turbulent 1930s. Highly recommended. 

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tomsk7 - LibraryThing

The writing is dry, but the subject fascinates me. An examination of Soviet culture in the 1930's through the lens of heroic polar/Siberian explorers. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
Footholds in the North The Russians in the Arctic 15001932
12
The Commissariat of Ice The Rise of Glavsevmorput 19321936
33
Days of Glory The Major Expeditions 19321939
59
From Victory To Victory The Myth of the Arctic in Soviet Culture
81
Between Rhetoric and Reality Manufacturing the Arctic Myth
110
Polestar Descending Glavsevmorput In Decline 19361939
145
CONCLUSION
174
Notes
182
Select Bibliography
211
Index
226
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Page 221 - Sheila Fitzpatrick, ed., Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928-1931 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), pp. 41-77. 47. The reference is to Allen Kassof's influential article, "The Administered Society: Totalitarianism Without Terror,

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About the author (1998)

John McCannon is Assistant Professor of History at Norwich University.

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