Witkin's memoirs offer a detailed view of the inner workings of Stalin's bureaucracy- of entrenched planners who refused to try new methods; of construction bosses whose coverups led to terrible disasters; of rival engineers who plagiarized Witkin's work; of workers too defeated to take pride in their own labor.
This book tells the tale of the prolific Italian architect, inventor, farmer, writer, and engineer Gaetano Ciocca, whose career took him from the battlefronts of World War I to Stalin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, FDR’s America, and finally to postwar liberal-democratic Italy. Like celebrated counterparts such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, Ciocca was a visionary so confident in his vision of a future in which all aspects of life would be rationalized and modernized that no set of practical or political obstacles could ever stand in his way. Ciocca’s endeavors included the development of “fast houses,” a “theater for 20,000 spectators,” the “guided roadway,” and the rationalist pig farms referred to by Carlo Belli as “Ciocca’s Grand Hotel for Pigs.”
Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s
Author: Sheila Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Focusing on urban areas in the 1930s, this college professor illuminates the ways that Soviet city-dwellers coped with this world, examining such diverse activities as shopping, landing a job, and other acts.
Stalin ordered his execution, but here Peter Palchinsky has the last word. As if rising from an uneasy grave, Palchinsky’s ghost leads us through the miasma of Soviet technology and industry, pointing out the mistakes he condemned in his time, the corruption and collapse he predicted, the ultimate price paid for silencing those who were not afraid to speak out. The story of this visionary engineer’s life and work, as Loren Graham relates it, is also the story of the Soviet Union’s industrial promise and failure. We meet Palchinsky in pre-Revolutionary Russia, immersed in protests against the miserable lot of laborers in the tsarist state, protests destined to echo ironically during the Soviet worker’s paradise. Exiled from the country, pardoned and welcomed back at the outbreak of World War I, the engineer joined the ranks of the Revolutionary government, only to find it no more open to criticism than the previous regime. His turbulent career offers us a window on debates over industrialization. Graham highlights the harsh irrationalities built into the Soviet system—the world’s most inefficient steel mill in Magnitogorsk, the gigantic and ill-conceived hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River, the infamously cruel and mislocated construction of the White Sea Canal. Time and again, we see the effects of policies that ignore not only the workers’ and consumers’ needs but also sound management and engineering precepts. And we see Palchinsky’s criticism and advice, persistently given, consistently ignored, continue to haunt the Soviet Union right up to its dissolution in 1991. The story of a man whose gifts and character set him in the path of history, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer is also a cautionary tale about the fate of an engineering that disregards social and human issues.
By developing a long-term supranational perspective, this ambitious, multi-faceted work provides a new understanding of ‘totalitarianism’, the troubling common element linking Soviet communism, Italian fascism and German Nazism. The book’s original analysis of antecedent ideas on the subject sheds light on the common origins and practices of the regimes. Through this fresh appreciation of their initial frame of mind, Roberts demonstrates how the three political experiments yielded unprecedented collective mobilization but also a characteristic combination of radicalization, myth-making, and failure. Providing deep historical analysis, the book proves that 'totalitarianism' best characterizes the common features in the originating aspirations, the mode of action and even the outcomes of Soviet communism, Italian fascism and German Nazism. By enhancing our knowledge of what ‘totalitarianism’ was and where it came from, Roberts affords important lessons about the ongoing challenges, possibilities, and dangers of the modern political experiment.
An ambitious, original book describing a century of Europe coping with America: its inventions, personalities, films, armies, business, and politics. These decades reveal how much emotional energy Europeans invested in finding their own ways to reconcile tradition and modernity under the pressure of the ever-evolving American challenge.
This study examines cases of rhetorical antagonisms and collaborations between the United States and the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. The author analyzes relations from cultural and political angles and investigates mutual perspectives at both the government and grassroots levels.