Soviet Themes


This compilation features books of the Central European University Press, published since its establishment in 1993, that have some relevance to the Soviet Union. After the latest release, titles in the backlist are arranged by content: contemporary topics are on top, older themes below. For more substantial information about the content and availability, please click on the cover of the book, or on the links inserted into the citations.

“In the Soviet Union it took only a year—from 1929 to 1930—to not only eradicate urban unemployment, but to create a severe shortage of labor. The average Soviet worker changed jobs every eight months in 1930, and turnover rates were more than 100 percent per year in heavy industry.”—from a book on labor under communism.
“In postwar Eastern and Central Europe, the Stakhanovite movement took a less heroic form than in the Soviet Union. It lost its momentum at the end of the 1950s, together with other instruments for enhancing productivity coming through Soviet chan­nels.”
“The organization of production according to the Soviet-Tay­lorist model debilitated old solidarities.”
“In the GDR some overzealous functionaries even recommended cen­soring the Soviet media. In 1989 the party committee of the factory in­formed the district party leadership that on a Soviet cinema day the audience criticized the movies for displaying a negative image of the Soviet Union.”

Titles from the CEU Press backlist, contemporary topics on top, older themes below:

Gorbachev: Dangers arise from the transitional situation in the USSR. We’re leaving behind one system of values. We see how the legitimate desire for national self-determination has negative implications: nationalism, separatism, sometimes with religious overtones. A balanced approach is needed; we have a unique responsibility.
Mitterrand: The USSR needs serious, sensible assistance. (July, 1991)
Gorbachev and Bush, now in paperback.
Yeltsin (to Bush): We got together today, Mr. President, the leaders of the three states—Byelorussia, Ukraine, and Russia. We gathered and after many lengthy discussions that lasted about two days agreed that the system in place and the Union Treaty everyone is pushing us to sign does not satisfy us. And that is why we got together and literally a few minutes ago signed a joint agreement. (December, 1991)

Thatcher said Gorbachev was an unusual Russian in that he was much less constrained, more charming, open to discussion and debate, and did not stick to prepared notes.
Reagan: We in the West have great strength—Europe alone has four times the GNP of the Soviet Union. We must deal with the Soviets from a position of strength. (December, 1984)
Conversations of Reagan and Gorbachev, now in paperback.
Gorbachev commented that compared to American expansionism the Soviet side’s was a small child. Reagan responded that there had been four wars in his lifetime, and the U.S. had not gained an inch of territory… He mentioned Berlin. He felt Gorbachev could and should tear down the Wall that day. (December, 1987)
said that the Soviets judged the problem of religion as not a serious one. There were not big problems with freedom of worship. He, himself, had been baptized, but was not now a believer and that reflected a certain evolution of Soviet society. (May, 1988).

“During the first Soviet occupation, no one knew who was fated to be arrested or deported, and this had a terrifying and paralysing effect on people. Hitler spoke about his goals openly and everyone knew that he posed mortal danger to Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally disabled, but Stalin was more inclined to shroud his horrors in silence or lies.”—from a memoir in conversations.
“When I arrived in Moscow in 1948, my uncle Sasha tore up my letters and many of the photographs that I had, explaining that, in the Soviet Union, keeping a diary is like reporting on oneself, like writing a denunciation—a донос, in Russian.”
“You know, my dear girl, replied the professor, in the Soviet Union psychology is not a science.”
“The third place that I cried in America was a dentist’s office. That is where I learned that it is possible to receive dental care without the terrible pain we all experienced going to Soviet clinics.”

“In late September 1939, two writers crossed a state border that had just ceased to exist. Their texts were translating this new territory into a ‘Soviet’ place, for justifying moving revolution across the border, and affirming the exclusive right for communism as the project of the future.”—two cities fundamentally transformed by WWII.
“A team of architects determined that the city was set on the path of becoming “in the nearest future one of the most beautiful cities of not only Soviet Ukraine, but also the Soviet Union.”
“Those artists coming from pre-war Soviet Ukraine to Lviv considered the local actors ‘totally illiterate,’ and took it upon themselves to re-educate and ‘raise their artistic qualifications’.”
“While the Polish, Yiddish and Ukrainian academic theaters seem to have suffered from the imposition of the Soviet cultural structures, somehow the urban entertainment world seems to have oddly flourished. Soviet officialdom loved entertainment.”

“In Moscow, Panait Istrati met Nikos Kazantzakis. Together they left for Odessa where, out of a strong revolutionary fervor, they embarked for Greece in order to spread the Bolshevik gospel.”—from the volume on intellectuals and the totalitarian temptation.
“By faithfully applying the 21 conditions of the Comintern, KKE followed policies promoting its Bolshevization. Particularly devastating was the imposition of a political line of social-fascism.”
“The German invasion constituted a first-rate political opportunity for the KKE. At that time, a small circle of leading Comintern figures in Moscow implemented the national front strategy.”
“The new conditions of the Civil War alienated all those new intellectuals who had been attracted by the nationalist discourse of the party during the occupation.”
“We should not overestimate the role of intellectuals in the configuration of the party’s identity. They mainly specialized in propaganda rather than in decision-making or in drawing up policy.”

Older titles from the backlist with relevance to the Soviet Union:

  • The last conversations of superpower leaders of the Cold War era on 1000 pages, and the true motivations of Gorbachev and other global politicians as revealed in 122 top-level Soviet, European and American archival records from 1989;
  • Artistic interactions within the Soviet bloc and with the West between 1945 and 1989, and he Moscow Conceptualism, the last phase of the story of the avant-garde art movement that began in the 1970s;  
  • Books in Russian (Mandelshtam, Pasternak, Sakharov, Sinyavski, the Medvedev brothers etc.) in the cold-war book distribution program of the CIA, the impact of western broadcasts on the USSR, and the vicissitudes of non-conformist writers’ and intellectuals’ in the Soviet Union;
  • Fresh interpreta­tion of the contexts, meanings, and consequences of the revolutions of 1989 discusses the demise of the Soviet Union from various angles;
  • Soviet and Russian modernization of Buryatia; the sovereignty movement taking place in Tatarstan; Kalmykia presented to the English reading academic world;
  • Essays on women and war mirrored in the arts, including Russian (and Soviet) cases;
  • The place of theater in the former Soviet bloc countries;
  • Studies on subjects like motherhood, childbearing, single mothers, divorce etc. present family life and childhood in Soviet times and in post-Soviet Russia and the Baltic States;  
  • On the waves of grain and other food shortages in Russia: were Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev right in theory but failed in practice because of the weather?
  • The analysis of core-periphery relations and globalization embraces a broader scope in time and space: Russia is a recurrent topic also in these contexts;   
  • A new, Euro-centered account of the Cold War;
  • When Russian intelligentsia began losing any hope of reforming Soviet-style communism: did the 1968 spring in Prague and Paris have an impact on this?
  • How the US government sponsored exile movements against communism;
  • The history and geography of forced migrations in the USSR, and a book on deportation memoirs from the Baltic States;
  • The Soviet occupation of Romania, Hungary, and Austria;
  • The period of “high Stalinism” has been revisited by multiple generations of scholars: Stalin and his rule provides ample material for historians;
  • The autobiographical account of Juozas Luksa, written before his fatal return to join his fellows in arms, fighting against the Soviets in the forests of Lithuania;
  • Moscow, the showcase of Soviet modernity;
  • An early communist protagonist in Hungary as József Pogány, a Comintern envoy in America as John Pepper, characteristically found his death in Stalin’s purge.