Red Arctic : Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932-1939: Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932-1939
Oxford University Press, USA, Mar 12, 1998 - History - 256 pages
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.