This book would be suitable for any reader interested in Stalinist history. Its lucid discussion of the historiography and important concepts of Stalinism also make it particularly valuable for advanced undergraduate or graduate students.
Crossing Borders deconstructs contemporary theories of Soviet history from the revolution through the Stalin period, and offers new interpretations based on a transnational perspective. To Michael David-Fox, Soviet history was shaped by interactions across its borders. By reexamining conceptions of modernity, ideology, and cultural transformation, he challenges the polarizing camps of Soviet exceptionalism and shared modernity and instead strives for a theoretical and empirical middle ground as the basis for a creative and richly textured analysis. Discussions of Soviet modernity have tended to see the Soviet state either as an archaic holdover from the Russian past, or as merely another form of conventional modernity. David-Fox instead considers the Soviet Union in its own light—as a seismic shift from tsarist society that attracted influential visitors from the pacifist Left to the fascist Right. By reassembling Russian legacies, as he shows, the Soviet system evolved into a complex “intelligentsia-statist” form that introduced an array of novel agendas and practices, many embodied in the unique structures of the party-state. Crossing Borders demonstrates the need for a new interpretation of the Russian-Soviet historical trajectory—one that strikes a balance between the particular and the universal.
A provocative work on modernity, ideology, and culture in the Russian revolutionary period through Stalin's era. This outstanding contribution to the literature delves deeply into the politics and culture of the early Soviet experience.
Crossing Borders provides an indispensable foundation for new studies that engage issues of state-socialist (Soviet) modernity, its particular and universal traits, the roles of ideology in a Soviet-type social order, and Communist-era cultural history in general. David-Fox proves himself a mature scholar of Russian/Soviet history, impressively knowledgeable, ambitious, and empirically meticulous. He's also a conceptually daring and innovative thinker.
Crossing Borders offers new perspectives on the nature of Soviet society (through the Stalin period) and its relationship to the world. This highly original and richly researched collection of essays challenges so many of the cliches of the historiography with great grace.
Michael David-Fox is professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of History, Georgetown University. He is the author of Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union; Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921–1941; and Revolution of the Mind: Higher Learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918–1929. David-Fox is also coeditor of Fascination and Enmity: Russia and Germany as Entangled Histories, 1914–1945 and The Holocaust in the East: Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses.