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By Stephen Kotkin

No one, no longer even Mikhail Gorbachev, expected what was once in shop while the Soviet Union embarked within the Nineteen Eighties on an intensive process long-overdue structural reform. the implications of that momentous choice, which set in movement a metamorphosis ultimately affecting the total postwar international order, are right here chronicled from within a formerly forbidden Soviet urban, Magnitogorsk. equipped lower than Stalin and championed by means of him as a exhibit of socialism, town remained closed to Western scrutiny until eventually 4 years in the past, while Stephen Kotkin grew to become the 1st American to dwell there in approximately part a century.

An uncommonly perceptive observer, a talented author, and a main social scientist, Kotkin bargains the reader an unsurpassed portrait of lifestyle within the Gorbachev period. From the formation of "informal" political teams to the start-up of fledgling companies within the new cooperative region, from the no-holds-barred investigative reporting of a former Communist occasion mouthpiece to a freewheeling multicandidate election crusade, the writer conveys the feel of up to date Soviet society within the throes of an upheaval now not obvious because the 1930s.

Magnitogorsk, a deliberate "garden urban" within the Ural Mountains, serves as Kotkin's laboratory for looking at the innovative alterations happening within the Soviet Union this present day. ruled through a self-perpetuating Communist celebration laptop, choked through business pollutants, and haunted by way of a suppressed prior, this once-proud urban now faces an doubtful destiny, as do the multiple thousand different business towns in the course of the Soviet Union.

Kotkin made his amazing first stopover at in 1987 and back in 1989. On either events, steelworkers and schoolteachers, bus drivers and housewives, intellectuals and previous sufferers of oppression—all willingly improved to voice long-suppressed grievances and aspirations. Their phrases animate this relocating narrative, the 1st to envision the impression and contradictions of perestroika in one group. Like no different Soviet urban, Magnitogorsk offers a window onto the determined fight to beat the heavy burden of Stalin's legacy.

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