On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the epic story of an enormous apartment building where Communist true believers lived before their destruction The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman’s Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine’s gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin’s purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children’s loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union. Completed in 1931, the House of Government, later known as the House on the Embankment, was located across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. The largest residential building in Europe, it combined 505 furnished apartments with public spaces that included everything from a movie theater and a library to a tennis court and a shooting range. Slezkine tells the chilling story of how the building’s residents lived in their apartments and ruled the Soviet state until some eight hundred of them were evicted from the House and led, one by one, to prison or their deaths. Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, and featuring hundreds of rare photographs, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared.
Oil is a curse, it is often said, that condemns the countries producing it to an existence defined by war, corruption and enormous inequality. Carbon Democracy tells a more complex story, arguing that no nation escapes the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil. It shapes the body politic both in regions such as the Middle East, which rely upon revenues from oil production, and in the places that have the greatest demand for energy. Timothy Mitchell begins with the history of coal power to tell a radical new story about the rise of democracy. Coal was a source of energy so open to disruption that oligarchies in the West became vulnerable for the first time to mass demands for democracy. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the development of cheap and abundant energy from oil, most notably from the Middle East, offered a means to reduce this vulnerability to democratic pressures. The abundance of oil made it possible for the first time in history to reorganize political life around the management of something now called “the economy” and the promise of its infinite growth. The politics of the West became dependent on an undemocratic Middle East. In the twenty-first century, the oil-based forms of modern democratic politics have become unsustainable. Foreign intervention and military rule are faltering in the Middle East, while governments everywhere appear incapable of addressing the crises that threaten to end the age of carbon democracy—the disappearance of cheap energy and the carbon-fuelled collapse of the ecological order. In making the production of energy the central force shaping the democratic age, Carbon Democracy rethinks the history of energy, the politics of nature, the theory of democracy, and the place of the Middle East in our common world.
Can Russia ever become a normal, free-market, democratic society? Why have so many reforms failed since the Soviet Union's collapse? In this highly-original work, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy argue that Russia's geography, history, and monumental mistakes perpetrated by Soviet planners have locked it into a dead-end path to economic ruin. Shattering a number of myths that have long persisted in the West and in Russia, The Siberian Curse explains why Russia's greatest assets––its gigantic size and Siberia's natural resources––are now the source of one its greatest weaknesses. For seventy years, driven by ideological zeal and the imperative to colonize and industrialize its vast frontiers, communist planners forced people to live in Siberia. They did this in true totalitarian fashion by using the GULAG prison system and slave labor to build huge factories and million-person cities to support them. Today, tens of millions of people and thousands of large-scale industrial enterprises languish in the cold and distant places communist planners put them––not where market forces or free choice would have placed them. Russian leaders still believe that an industrialized Siberia is the key to Russia's prosperity. As a result, the country is burdened by the ever-increasing costs of subsidizing economic activity in some of the most forbidding places on the planet. Russia pays a steep price for continuing this folly––it wastes the very resources it needs to recover from the ravages of communism. Hill and Gaddy contend that Russia's future prosperity requires that it finally throw off the shackles of its Soviet past, by shrinking Siberia's cities. Only by facilitating the relocation of population to western Russia, closer to Europe and its markets, can Russia achieve sustainable economic growth. Unfortunately for Russia, there is no historical precedent for shrinking cities on the scale that will be required. Downsizing Siberia will be a costly and wrenching process. But there is no alternative. Russia cannot afford to keep the cities communist planners left for it out in the cold.
The story of this family takes the reader through two hundred years of turbulent history and daily living. One member of the clan was Pálóczi Horváth Ádám, a staunch Hungarian patriot, collector of Hungarian folk songs at the turn of the 18th century, who believed that women should be entitled to an equal education with men, to the right to hold office and to have representatives in Parliament. His contemporary, Dukai Takách Judit was one of the first Hungarian female poets. Other illustrious members included writers, a diplomat, a state minister, and a mathematician. One fought in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Several died in the two world wars; many lived through the dismemberment of Hungary after World War I. The next generation made it through World War II, the Nazi occupation of the country, the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Many are still living in Hungary; others have left the country to seek better lives in England and America. Their personal stories bring alive the realities of life behind the headlines of history. The story of the family in the 20th century is told through the "portraits" of seven family members, spanning three generations. Pálóczi Horváth Lajos (author Dalma's father) was a writer, collector of folk songs (like Ádám) and champion of the rights of the peasants and industrial workers. He was a man of cosmopolitan education who spoke nine languages, but had a fierce loyalty to his country. He saw both Nazi Germany and Soviet Communism as equally dangerous to Hungary. After the Communist takeover of Hungary he was arrested on trumped up charges of subversion and served five years in prison. The freedom fighters of 1956 released him, but he did not leave his country even after the ruthless suppression of the 1956 Revolution. Hevesi Halász Laura, wife of Pálóczi Horváth Lajos and Dalma's mother, was born in the southern part of pre-World War I Hungary, an area assigned to Romania by the Treaty of Trianon. After World War I her widowed mother took the children to live in what was left of Hungary, and Laura lived through the privations and economic chaos caused by the dismemberment of the country. She was loyal to her husband, but in love with another man, Dálnoki Veress László, a Hungarian diplomat. During World War II Veress was charged by Hungary's Prime Minister to negotiate Hungary's surrender to the Allies. His "portrait" reveals the bittersweet complexities of this love triangle and its place in European history. Dalma's story shows how her life was shaped by these strong personalities and by the joys and cruelties of life in 20th century Europe and America. Together with her parents she made it through World War II and the siege of Budapest. For a month their house was in no man's land between the Russian and the German front lines. But the most traumatic part of the experience was the Russian occupation: for six weeks their home was an army hospital; the soldiers were the masters and the tenants were slaves obliged to obey their commands. Yet she also had the chance to learn much about the Soviet army because her father was the interpreter. In the years after 1945 hopes of a free country governed by free elections gradually faded. By 1947 the Communists were in control, arresting and imprisoning their opponents. Laura made the wrenching decision to leave Hungary with her daughter, and join Veress László, whom she later married. Dalma's story takes her through the challenges of starting a new life in England in the aftermath of World War II, preparing for exams, helping out at home while her mother and stepfather tried to make a living, and dreading news from Hungary where the Communists were gradually stifling all forms of freedom. She was 15 when she arrived in England. Seven years later she had a B.A. degree and teaching English in an English grammar school. But her challenges continued. After her marriage to Takác
This masterwork of interpretative history begins with a bold declaration: “The Modern Age is the Jewish Age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century.” The assertion is, of course, metaphorical. But it drives home Yuri Slezkine’s provocative thesis: Jews have adapted to the modern world so well that they have become models of what it means to be modern. While focusing on the drama of the Russian Jews, including émigrés and their offspring, The Jewish Century is also an incredibly original account of the many faces of modernity—nationalism, socialism, capitalism, and liberalism. Rich in its insight, sweeping in its chronology, and fearless in its analysis, this is a landmark contribution to Jewish, Russian, European, and American history.
This dissertation is a biography of a house, utilizing a particular building as a prism through which to see Russian modernity. The Kshesinskaia mansion, a founding work of the Art Nouveau in Russia, was originally a St. Petersburg socialite's salon. Through 1917, it became the center of one of the most famous lawsuits in the country and the headquarters of the Bolsheviks as well. In the aftermath of the Revolution, the house was dedicated to a number of social service causes and as of the 1930s became what it is today, a museum dedicated to the revolutionary past. This saga of this building, with its extraordinary links to the central players of the Russian Revolution, thus allows us a rare stage on which to see the revolutionary era unfold. This dissertation therefore speaks to the Russian Revolution and in particular, Russia's experience with modernity. While historians have tended to trace Russia;s steps to 1917 through the eyes of particular groups, in this work, I show that "modern society" was a vision multiple groups embraced, although they understood that term differently. Through the figures of this dissertation (aristocrats, architects, writers, lawyers, and revolutionaries alike), we see that a number of visions existed of what "modern society" should be. In my work, I bring all of these visions together to suggest that all of them played a role in bringing about the Russian Revolution as it developed. I show how these small stories, played out on the stage of the Kshesinskaia mansion, reflected the fall of one culture and the rise of another, premised entirely on the idea of service to the people. The Petersburg nobles, although united by the idea of service, believed too much in ritual and expectation to allow them to spontaneously change, en masse, to befit the expedience of a new industrial order. The artists and intelligentsia (represented here by the architects) sought to keep one foot in the patronage system of the imperial world and another in the new, international, professional vision of their field; because they were insistent on their role as servants to the people, they were not necessarily against the rise of a "People's Government." By looking at the courts of 1917, I demonstrate that the Provisional Government was inept and at points hypocritical in its application of the law, and ultimately undermined its own role as the guardian of civil rights. Meanwhile, just as the Provisional Government was contradicting its own values, the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, created a truly accessible organization that offered the Russian people a solid vision of an organization, and later government, that desired to serve the people. Of all of these visions of modern society, it would be the Bolsheviks that would triumph, partly because they were able to create a credible argument, through their use of the spaces of the Kshesinskaia mansion, that they were indeed servants of the people.
Caricatures of sixties television--called a "vast wasteland" by the FCC president in the early sixties--continue to dominate our perceptions of the era and cloud popular understanding of the relationship between pop culture and larger social forces. Opposed to these conceptions, The Revolution Wasn't Televised explores the ways in which prime-time television was centrally involved in the social conflicts of the 1960s. It was then that television became a ubiquitous element in American homes. The contributors in this volume argue that due to TV's constant presence in everyday life, it became the object of intense debates over childraising, education, racism, gender, technology, politics, violence, and Vietnam. These essays explore the minutia of TV in relation to the macro-structure of sixties politics and society, attempting to understand the struggles that took place over representation the nation's most popular communications media during the 1960s.
A patriot by birth, John Quincy Adams's destiny was foreordained. He was not only "The Greatest Traveler of His Age," but his country's most gifted linguist and most experienced diplomat. John Quincy's world encompassed the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the early and late Napoleonic Age. As his diplomat father's adolescent clerk and secretary, he met everyone who was anyone in Europe, including America's own luminaries and founding fathers, Franklin and Jefferson. All this made coming back to America a great challenge. But though he was determined to make his own career he was soon embarked, at Washington's appointment, on his phenomenal work abroad, as well as on a deeply troubled though loving and enduring marriage. But through all the emotional turmoil, he dedicated his life to serving his country. At 50, he returned to America to serve as Secretary of State to President Monroe. He was inaugurated President in 1824, after which he served as a stirring defender of the slaves of the Amistad rebellion and as a member of the House of Representatives from 1831 until his death in 1848. In The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams, Phyllis Lee Levin provides the deeply researched and beautifully written definitive biography of one of the most fascinating and towering early Americans.
In Treachery, noted intelligence authority Chapman Pincher makes a compelling case that Roger Hollis, head of MI5 from 1956 to 1965, was himself a double agent, acting to undermine and imperil the UK and America. Myriad intriguing case histories are portrayed, including that of Lt Igor Gouzenko, a Red Army cipher clerk whose 1945 disclosure of a mole in MI5 touched off the Cold War. With a mass of new evidence, some from Russian sources, Pincher also provides exciting new perspectives on other infamous operatives, including Kim Philby and Klaus Fuchs. Perhaps most explosively, Pincher posits that long after Hollis stepped down, a cover-up was perpetrated at the highest levels, even involving Margaret Thatcher, to conceal the truth for ever – a deception that continues today. Treachery warns us to protect our society and institutions from enemy infiltration in the future. It is a revelatory work that puts twentieth-century politics and war into stunning new relief.