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Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon
Nowhere in the world was the sport of biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship, taken more seriously than in the Soviet Union, and no other nation garnered greater success at international venues. From the introduction of modern biathlon in 1958 to the USSR’s demise in 1991, athletes representing the Soviet Union won almost half of all possible medals awarded in world championship and Olympic competition. The inherent characteristics of biathlon, which requires stamina and precision in a quasi-military setting, dovetailed with important concepts promoted by the Soviet government. The sport also supplied an opportune platform for promoting the State’s socialist viewpoint and military might. Biathlon, in other words, was about more than simply winning Olympic medals. Currently the most popular winter spectator sport in Europe, biathlon looms large in the history of global athletics, and in the event’s early narrative the Soviet Union was its most important player. William D. Frank, a former nationally ranked competitor and a scholar of Russian history, is in a unique position to tell this story. His highly readable book is the first in-depth look at how the Soviet government interpreted the sport of skiing as a cultural, ideological, and political tool throughout the course of seven decades. For scholars and general readers alike, Everyone to Skis! represents a fascinating perspective on the Soviet Union through the history of a sport closely tied to the homeland. In the words of Lenin: “Do you ski? Do it without fail! Learn how and set off for the mountains—you must. In the mountains winter is wonderful! It’s sheer delight, and it smells like Russia.”
Russia and Germany as Entangled Histories, 1914–1945
Russia and Germany have had a long history of significant cultural, political, and economic exchange. Despite these beneficial interactions, stereotypes of the alien Other persisted. Germans perceived Russia as a vast frontier with unlimited potential, yet infused with an “Asianness” that explained its backwardness and despotic leadership. Russians admired German advances in science, government, and philosophy, but saw their people as lifeless and obsessed with order. Fascination and Enmity presents an original transnational history of the two nations during the critical era of the world wars. By examining the mutual perceptions and misperceptions within each country, the contributors reveal the psyche of the Russian-German dynamic and its use as a powerful political and cultural tool. Through accounts of fellow travelers, POWs, war correspondents, soldiers on the front, propagandists, revolutionaries, the Comintern, and wartime and postwar occupations, the contributors analyze the kinetics of the Russian-German exchange and the perceptions drawn from these encounters. The result is a highly engaging chronicle of the complex entanglements of two world powers through the great wars of the twentieth century.
Provisionment of the Okhotsk Seaboard and the Kamchatka Peninsula, 1639–1856
James R. Gibson offers a detailed study that is both an account of this chapter of Russian history and a full examination of the changing geography of the Okhotsk Seaboard and the Kamchatka Peninsula over the course of two centuries.
Soviet Cinema and the Genocide of the Jews, 1938–1946
Most early Western perceptions of the Holocaust were based on newsreels filmed during the allied liberation of Germany in 1945. Little, however, was reported of the initial wave of material from Soviet filmmakers who were in fact the first to document these horrors. In First Films of the Holocaust, Jeremy Hicks presents a pioneering study of Soviet contributions to the growing public awareness of the horrors of Nazi rule. Even before the war, the Soviet film Professor Mamlock, which premiered in the United States in 1938 and coincided with the Kristallnacht pogrom, helped reinforce anti-Nazi sentiment. Yet, Soviet films were often dismissed or even banned in the West as Communist propaganda. Ironically, in the brief 1939–1941 period of Nazi and Soviet alliance, such films were also banned in the Soviet Union, only to be reclaimed after the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, and suppressed yet again during the Cold War. Jeremy Hicks recovers much of the major film work in Soviet depictions of the Shoa and views them within their political context, both locally and internationally. Overwhelmingly, wartime films were skewed to depict Soviet resistance, “Red funerals,” and calls for vengeance, rather than the singling out of Jewish victims by the Nazis. Almost no personal testimony of victims or synchronous sound was recorded, furthering the disconnection of the viewer to the victims. Hicks examines correspondence, scripts, reviews, and compares edited with unedited film, to unearth the deliberately hidden Jewish aspects of Soviet depictions of the German invasion and occupation. To Hicks, it’s in the silences, gaps, and ellipses that the films speak most clearly. Additionally, he details the reasons why Soviet Holocaust films have been subsequently erased from collective memory in the West and the Soviet Union: their graphic horror, their use as propaganda tools, and the postwar rise of the Red Scare in the United States and anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union.
Women Against the Tsar
Violent movements that opposed the existing political order erupted all over Europe in the course of the 19th century. Nowhere was revolutionary violence more visible and dramatic than in Russia. There, revolutionaries took the lives of dozens of people, most, though not all of them, high officials. Accepting the label “terrorist” as a badge of honor, the revolutionaries insisted upon the morality and justice of their cause, and they were fully prepared to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of it. Unlike most people considered terrorists today, Russian revolutionaries selected their targets carefully, focusing on those whom they regarded as responsible for the oppressive political and social order and mourning unanticipated civilian casualties. The goal: the replacement of the current order by one that would genuinely represent and serve the people.
The Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia
From Ethnic Conflict to Stillborn Reform is the first complete treatment of the major post-communist conflicts in both the former Yugoslavia— Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia—and the former Soviet Union—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Tajikistan. It is also the first work that focuses not on causes but rather on consequences for democratization and market reform, the two most widely studied political outcomes in the developing world. Building on existing work emphasizing the effects of economic development and political culture, the book adds a new, comprehensive treatment of how war affects political and economic reform. Author Shale Horowitz employs both statistical evidence and historical case studies of the eight new nations to determine that ethnic conflict entangles, distracts, and destabilizes reformist democratic governments, while making it easier for authoritarian leaders to seize and consolidate power. As expected, economic backwardness worsens these tendencies, but Horowitz finds that powerful reform-minded nationalist ideologies can function as antidotes. The comprehensiveness of the treatment, use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and focus on standard concepts from comparative politics make this book an excellent tool for classroom use, as well as a ground-breaking analysis for scholars.
The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary
Zsuzsa Gille combines social history, cultural analysis, and environmental sociology to advance a long overdue social theory of waste in this study of waste management, Hungarian state socialism, and post--Cold War capitalism. From 1948 to the end of the Soviet period, Hungary developed a cult of waste that valued reuse and recycling. With privatization the old environmentally beneficial, though not flawless, waste regime was eliminated, and dumping and waste incineration were again promoted. Gille's analysis focuses on the struggle between a Budapest-based chemical company and the small rural village that became its toxic dump site.
Defining the Russian Nation through Cultural Mythology, 1855–1870