In This Review

Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s
Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s
By Sheila Fitzpatrick
Oxford University Press, 1999, 280 pp
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One of the most influential historians of the Soviet period describes what it was like to live under Stalin in the 1930s -- the frantic, heroic, tragic decade of collectivization, forced-draft industrialization, and purges, when ordinary Russians struggled to find a wearable pair of shoes and lined up in subzero weather at two o'clock in the morning in the hope of getting 16 grams of bread. Also in Fitzpatrick's portrait are workers harassed to emulate hero laborers, abandoned wives, neglected children, and the homeless -- as well as the newly privileged and, at the other end, the families of political outcasts. They were years of unimaginable hardship and brutality but also of idealism, a surreal melange that she captures with admirable matter-of-factness. The residue of attitude and habit formed during these searing years survives to a surprising degree in our own day.