In This Review

The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization
The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization
By Lynne Viola
Oxford, 1987, 285 pp

The vanguard was the group of some 25,000 urban workers sent out into the countryside as pioneers in 1930-31 to help put through the drive to collectivize the farms and eliminate the kulaks. They acted as cheerleaders, party activists, organizers and local officials. Their record was more of failure than success for reasons related less to the participants themselves than to the chaos and peasant resistance that marked the early phase of Stalin's campaign. This excellent monograph tells the story so well because the author, a young American historian, was able to gain access to Soviet governmental archives containing a wealth of first-hand material.