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Beyond the Monastery Walls

The Ascetic Revolution in Russian Orthodox Thought, 1814–1914

Patrick Lally Michelson

During Russia's late imperial period, Orthodox churchmen, professionally trained theologians, and an array of social commentators sought to give meaning to Russian history and its supposed backwardness. Many found that meaning in asceticism. For some, ascetic religiosity prevented Russia from achieving its historical destiny. For others, it was the means by which the Russian people would realize the kingdom of God, thereby saving Holy Russia and the world from the satanic forces of the West.

Patrick Lally Michelson's intellectual history of asceticism in Russian Orthodox thought traces the development of these competing arguments from the early nineteenth century to the early months of World War I. He demonstrates that this discourse was an imaginative interpretation of lived Orthodoxy, primarily meant to satisfy the ideological needs of Russian thinkers and Orthodox intellectuals as they responded to the socioeconomic, political, and cultural challenges of modernity.

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Black Garden

Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War

Thomas de Waal

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2003

Black Garden is the definitive study of how Armenia and Azerbaijan, two southern Soviet republics, got sucked into a conflict that helped bring them to independence, bringing to an end the Soviet Union, and plaguing a region of great strategic importance. It cuts between a careful reconstruction of the history of Nagorny Karabakh conflict since 1988 and on-the-spot reporting on its convoluted aftermath.

Part contemporary history, part travel book, part political analysis, the book is based on six months traveling through the south Caucasus, more than 120 original interviews in the region, Moscow, and Washington, and unique primary sources, such as Politburo archives.

The historical chapters trace how the conflict lay unresolved in the Soviet era; how Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders exacerbated it; how the Politiburo failed to cope with the crisis; how the war began and ended; how the international community failed to sort out the conflict.

What emerges is a complex and subtle portrait of a beautiful and fascinating region, blighted by historical prejudice and conflict.

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Blacks, Reds, and Russians

Sojourners in Search of the Soviet Promise

Joy Gleason Carew

One of the most compelling, yet little known stories of race relations in the twentieth century is the account of blacks who chose to leave the United States to be involved in the Soviet Experiment in the 1920s and 1930s. In Blacks, Reds, and Russians, Joy Gleason Carew offers insight into the political strategies that often underlie relationships between different peoples and countries. Interviews with the descendents of figures such as Paul Robeson and Oliver Golden offer rare personal insights into the story of a group of emigrants who, confronted by the daunting challenges of making a life for themselves in a racist United States, found unprecedented opportunities in communist Russia.

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Blockbuster History in the New Russia

Movies, Memory, and Patriotism

Stephen M. Norris

Seeking to rebuild the Russian film industry after its post-Soviet collapse, directors and producers sparked a revival of nationalist and patriotic sentiment by applying Hollywood techniques to themes drawn from Russian history. Unsettled by the government's move toward market capitalism, Russians embraced these historical blockbusters, packing the American-style multiplexes that sprouted across the country. In this volume, Stephen M. Norris examines the connections among cinema, politics, economics, history, and patriotism in the creation of "blockbuster history"--the adaptation of an American cinematic style to Russian historical epics.

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Blood Libel in Late Imperial Russia

The Ritual Murder Trial of Mendel Beilis

Robert Weinberg

On Sunday, March 20, 1911, children playing in a cave near Kiev made a gruesome discovery: the blood-soaked body of a partially clad boy. After right-wing groups asserted that the killing was a ritual murder, the police, with no direct evidence, arrested Menachem Mendel Beilis, a 39-year-old Jewish manager at a factory near the site of the crime. Beilis's trial in 1913 quickly became an international cause célèbre. The jury ultimately acquitted Beilis but held that the crime had the hallmarks of a ritual murder. Robert Weinberg's account of the Beilis Affair explores the reasons why the tsarist government framed Beilis, shedding light on the excesses of antisemitism in late Imperial Russia. Primary documents culled from the trial transcript, newspaper articles, Beilis's memoirs, and archival sources, many appearing in English for the first time, bring readers face to face with this notorious trial.

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Blood Ties and the Native Son

Poetics of Patronage in Kyrgyzstan

Aksana Ismailbekova

A pioneering study of kinship, patronage, and politics in Central Asia, Blood Ties and the Native Son tells the story of the rise and fall of a man called Rahim, an influential and powerful patron in rural northern Kyrgyzstan, and of how his relations with clients and kin shaped the economic and social life of the region. Many observers of politics in post-Soviet Central Asia have assumed that corruption, nepotism, and patron-client relations would forestall democratization. Looking at the intersection of kinship ties with political patronage, Aksana Ismailbekova finds instead that this intertwining has in fact enabled democratization—both kinship and patronage develop apace with democracy, although patronage relations may stymie individual political opinion and action.

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Body Soviet

Propaganda, Hygiene, and the Revolutionary State

Tricia Starks

In 1918 the People’s Commissariat of Public Health began a quest to protect the health of all Soviet citizens, but health became more than a political platform or a tactical decision. The Soviets defined and categorized the world by interpreting political orthodoxy and citizenship in terms of hygiene. The assumed political, social, and cultural benefits of a regulated, healthy lifestyle informed the construction of Soviet institutions and identity. Cleanliness developed into a political statement that extended from domestic maintenance to leisure choices and revealed gender, ethnic, and class prejudices. Dirt denoted the past and poor politics; health and cleanliness signified mental acuity, political orthodoxy, and modernity.
            Health, though essential to the revolutionary vision and crucial to Soviet plans for utopia, has been neglected by traditional histories caught up in Cold War debates. The Body Soviet recovers this significant aspect of Soviet thought by providing a cross-disciplinary, comparative history of Soviet health programs that draws upon rich sources of health care propaganda, including posters, plays, museum displays, films, and mock trials. The analysis of propaganda makes The Body Soviet more than an institutional history; it is also an insightful critique of the ideologies of the body fabricated by health organizations.

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The Bolsheviks in Power

The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd

Alexander Rabinowitch

A major contribution to the historiography of the world in the 20th century, The Bolsheviks in Power focuses on the fateful first year of Soviet rule in Petrograd. It examines events that profoundly shaped the Soviet political system that endured through most of the 20th century. Drawing largely from previously inaccessible Soviet archives, it demolishes standard interpretations of the origins of Soviet authoritarianism by demonstrating that the Soviet system evolved ad hoc as the Bolsheviks struggled to retain political power amid spiraling political, social, economic, and military crises. The book covers issues such as the rapid fall of influential moderate Bolsheviks, the formation of the dreaded Cheka, the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the Red Terror, the national government's flight to Moscow, and the subsequent rivalry between Russia's new and old capitals.

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Bondarchuk's War and Peace

Literary Classic to Soviet Cinematic Epic

An epic story of 20th century film-making, Sergei Bondarchuk's seven hours long and $700 million dollar masterpiece as the Soviet Union reclaims Tolstoy's Russian classic as Cold War propaganda.

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The Borders of Integration

Polish Migrants in Germany and the United States, 1870-1924

Brian McCook

The issues of immigration and integration are at the forefront of contemporary politics. Yet debates over foreign workers and the desirability of their incorporation into European and American societies too often are discussed without a sense of history. McCook’s examination questions static assumptions about race and white immigrant assimilation a hundred years ago, highlighting how the Polish immigrant experience is relevant to present-day immigration debates on both sides of the Atlantic. Further, his research shows the complexity of attitudes toward immigration in Germany and the United States, challenging historical myths surrounding German national identity and the American “melting pot.”

In a comparative study of Polish migrants who settled in the Ruhr Valley and northeastern Pennsylvania, McCook shows that in both regions, Poles become active citizens within their host societies through engagement in social conflict within the public sphere to defend their ethnic, class, gender, and religious interests. While adapting to the Ruhr and northeastern Pennsylvania, Poles simultaneously retained strong bonds with Poland, through remittances, the exchange of letters, newspapers, and frequent return migration. In this analysis of migration in a globalizing world, McCook highlights the multifaceted ways in which immigrants integrate into society, focusing in particular on how Poles created and utilized transnational spaces to mobilize and attain authentic and more permanent identities grounded in newer broadly conceived notions of citizenship.

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