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Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (Oxford Oral History Series)
Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (Oxford Oral History Series)
By Donald J. Raleigh
Oxford University Press, USA, 2011, 432 pp
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Contemporary historians have failed to systematically collect the memories and self-explanations of people who lived through the Soviet experience and are now free to talk about it. With this book, Raleigh has done his part to correct this neglect, by conducting interviews with 60 members of the 1967 graduating classes of two elite high schools, one in Moscow and one in Saratov, a southern city. What emerges is an oral history of their generation, the Soviet Union’s version of the baby boomers. They are the children of professionals and midlevel authorities, and they remember their childhoods and school days fondly and with some pride. They grew up without the kind of suffering that their parents had known as young people. Reaching adulthood during the Brezhnev era, they jostled against the regime’s strictures in minor ways by aping Western fads. As the Soviet system deteriorated, they married and divorced and struggled with careers, all the while developing a vague, unfocused cynicism. This book is a collective biography that will fascinate its subjects’ grandchildren, to whom the world it depicts will seem like a distant planet.