Political Culture of Soviet Russia by Robert C. Tucker
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“Tucker is the West’s foremost authority on Stalin and Stalinism. . . .Of the rash of Gorbachev books that have appeared in the last three years, Tucker’s is the most thought-provoking and original, the one that best equips us to understand what is at stake in perestroika over the long haul.” ―Thane Gustafson, Georgetown University, in the New RepublicThis outstanding new book lays bare the fundamental concepts needed to structure a cultural perspective on Soviet politics and history. The cultural approach is combined in it with a focus on the roles that leaders have played in the political process and in cultural change. In Robert C. Tucker’s interpretation, the Soviet political culture arose under Lenin’s aegis as a “belief culture.” The book traces its further development, from the post-Lenin 1920s to Stalin’s violent revolution from above of the 1930s, and from Khrushchev’s failed post-Stalin reform effort to the “crisis of belief” that came about under Brezhnev’s conservative administration of the later 1960s and 1970s. Against this background, the book examines in depth and detail the ongoing fight under Gorbachev’s leadership to reform the Soviet political culture and revive the citizens’ belief in the socialist project. Its up-to-date analysis of current changes in the USSR is based in part on the author’s firsthand observation as an exchange scholar in Moscow in late 1986.