Booklist, Nov 15, 2000 v97 i6 p608

Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents. (Review by Gilbert Taylor)

Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents. Ed. by Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov. Tr. by Thomas Hoisington and Steven Shabad. Nov. 2000. 460p. illus. index. Yale, $35 (0-300-08480-3). 947.084.

This installment in the publisher's estimable Annals of Communism series explores the social history of 1930s Russia. It consists of about 150 documents, most of them letters by ordinary citizens subjected to coercive policies of crash industrialization, forced collectivization, and ideological indoctrination. Because of the last, the letter writers tend to express themselves in the Bolshevik idiom of liquidating class enemies and constructing socialism whilst getting to the point, usually a complaint about shortages, a party boss, or a neighbor and pleas for the release from the gulag of loved ones. The editors link the documents with commentary, but the letters essentially speak unmediated and, consequently, with considerable emotional force. En bloc, they reveal the popular resistance and resentment that greeted most official initiatives and, too, the occasional reaction to protests by leaders of the regime, such as the titular head of state, Mikhail Kalinin. Libraries that have previously noticed the Annals series should welcome this volume.