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adds significantly to our understanding of World War II and the Cold War by showing some of the ways that ordinary Soviet citizens imagined the world around them during the Stalin years. (Eric Duskin, American Historical Review)
Without any doubt, there is much to learn from this well researched and excellently organized book. (Robert Kindler, Journal of Social History)
this is an ambitious and impressive monograph. (Ian D. Thatcher, European History Quarterly)
Being Soviet is a significant contribution to studies of popular opinion and collective mentalités in modern dictatorships. (Alexey Tikhomirov, Slavonic and East European Review)
Being Soviet adopts a refreshing and innovative approach to the years between the Nazi-Soviet Pact and Stalin's death in the USSR.
Timothy Johnston draws on newspapers, films, plays, and popular music in order to examine the changing nature of Soviet identity in this era. He pays particular attention to the evolution of Britain and America from wartime allies to Cold War enemies.
Being Soviet then explores how ordinary citizens related to this official version of Soviet identity. It examines that question via the rumours, jazz music, hairstyles, jokes, anti-war campaigns, and sexual relationships of the time. Johnston argues that these 'everyday' activities defined Soviet identity for the man on the street in the USSR.
At the heart of the book is a sustained critique of the current emphasis on 'supporters' or 'resistors' of the regime. Johnston suggests that the shadow of Foucault looms too large in the history of Stalinism. The relationship between Soviet citizens and Soviet power was defined by the subtle tactics of everyday living. For many, life was not defined by 'belief' or 'unbelief' but rather the constant struggle to stay fed, informed, and entertained. This more nuanced approach offers a rich and textured image of what it meant to be Soviet in Stalin's least years.
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