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Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
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Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Most popular books about the Stalin era feature the big names and a firm narrative shape: Robert Conquest's The Great Terror; Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin. Some books yield their revelations at a glance, like the stunning The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia.

But scholar Sheila Fitzpatrick is famous for letting the common

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Published March 4th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Judith Killen
Excellent book by one of the grande dames of Russian and Soviet history. It captures the texture of daily life for ordinary people in Stalinist USSR. Many books recount the dramatic horrors of living during the Civil War, collectivization of the peasants, the great purges--but this focuses on how "small" people went about their days--confronting scarcity, propaganda, zealots, work politics, errant spouses, and their revolts through jokes, accidents, drinking and suicide. This is well researched- ...more
John Daly
I enjoyed the book, but knew what I was getting into. This is a book about everyday life of people in Russia, informed by their diaries and post World War II interviews with refugees from the USSR. The author is an expert on Russian history, but I am not and had to do some background searches on Wikipedia to feel comfortable reading the book. I have posted a couple of things on my blog discussing the book in more detail:
Confession: I am only two-thirds of the way through this book. But I've been reading it almost without a break for the last 12 hours. Because from the first page, I have felt as if I were reading some kind of thriller written about daily life in Stalinist Russia by a very talented writer & scholar who has researched everything thoroughly and only included the most interesting and/or pertinent bits in her narrative…. "Extraordinary times," indeed! Utterly fantastic, horrible, gut-wrenching ti ...more
My only complaint about this book is that the type is so small. The content is great, how did citizens of the Soviet Union survive? I had no idea about the hardships these people faced, and what kept them going. Yet for all of communism's shortfalls, there were also some truly amazing human achievements accomplished during Stalin's reign. The mix of terror, nationalism, and modernization at any cost truly created a new type of soviet person.
Derek Lewis
It's another great textbook, but I have to dock one star because of that. It is not something to pick up for pleasurable reading... that is unless you are a sadist who enjoys reading about the literal and figurative destruction of a entire nation of people by Stalin. Fitzpatrick's offering is a must read for this era in history.
Sheila Fitzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, like many of her works, is concerned with the experiences of society under the Soviet regime rather than the state, but here she takes her research a step further and seeks to uncover what everyday life was like for the urban Soviet citizen in the 1930s. This is no easy task for any era of Soviet history, but is particularly difficult for a population that was living under a Stalinist administration wherein one could be sent to prison for even imagined di ...more
This is one I've had on my bookshelf for several years, ever since a Stalinist Russia history class I signed up for and then dropped back in college. It was really enlightening as far as providing a look into how common people lived their lives day to day under Stalin - most of the information I've gotten in the past about the Soviet Union has concerned the upper classes/intelligentsia or those specifically targeted as enemies of the regime (kulaks, etc).

There's some really interesting stuff in
It is an excellent introductory book on Stalinism. Although it is not the most original book in Soviet history, nor does it provide a new information nor a genuine theoretical discussion, it provides good overall picture of the life of ordinary people in Soviet Union in 1930s.
It seems like I've been reading this book for years, mainly because once I got a few pages done, my eyelids grew heavy and I wanted to take a nap.

This is not the most exciting or engaging book on the Soviet Union, but it is informative if you can get past the long dense paragraphs. The author lets the Russians speak for themeselves, which is good, but she doesn't let them carry the narrative, which isn't so good.

I did like her conclusion, in which she uses some interesting metaphors to illustr
This book falls between Research and Popular History but does neither justice. The writing style is hard to hold onto at times and can be difficult to understand. I found that the chapters jumped around a bit and that their was no real focus as I had hoped. She left out work(though she explained why) and I found that odd for a book about ordinary life. And at times I felt that the book wasn't even about everyday life. In the end it can be a good secondary source, and has excellent research notes ...more
I had to read this for my Stalinism class but this wasn't too bad. As far as a history book goes, Fitzpatrick kind of veered off the path of traditional history texts, forgoing the application of theory and instead presenting more of an anthropological look into the daily lives of people in Stalinist Russia. By using personal stories and other anecdotes as her main source, Fitzpatrick delivers a far more engaging, personalized account of the average person in urban 1930s Russia. Everyday Stalini ...more
Sheila Fitzpatrick is a genius.I've actually a few social histories on Stalinist Russia for my degree and this by far the most detailed, coherent and incredibly concise account of lives under the Stalinist system. She uses almost a narrative style to, very vividly depict, the abject living conditions of USSR during 1930's along with a great insight into the tools of propaganda utilized and not to mention its immense bureaucratic power apparatus, along with of course the shocking years Terror tow ...more
This book contains an awful lot of data, but the author tries to pull it all together. It's a bit dryer than The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes. It presents a pretty clear picture of what urban life was like in the 1930s under Stalin.
Kenghis Khan
I was surprised at how balanced it was, and how really ordinary life in the USSR was. On balance Kirkpatrick does her subject justice, although there is plenty of underhanded political commentary against the Soviet system that seems a little tongue in cheek.
the brilliance of this historical study lies in the balanced examination of 'humanity' in a specific period of time in human history, rather than creating the dichotomy of 'victims' and '(state) power'.

powerful and beautifully written.
Rachael MacLean
This is a very well researched book and it's interesting material. It does get a little repetitive, though, so if you read too much at once it becomes a bit of a slog. Definitely a book I would recommend reading in increments.
Man meets woman. Man and woman marry. Man leaves woman. Man and woman divorce. Woman moves on man comes back too late. The best part of this tired storyline is the counsellors point of view.
A highly readable and though-provoking examination of the life of average Soviet citizens in the cities of Stalin's Russia. Quite popular with my undergraduate students.
Very insightful about the lives of those in the time period. It was quite exciting. Perhaps it is just because I find Totalitarian governments to be intriguing.
Some stuff we already knew through films etc, but the personal tales were fantastic. How could a country like this (or North Korea) exist?
Rod Zemke
Necessary to understand what was happening on the ground (there is a pun there if you look hard enough).
An excellent, deeply researched book useful for students and area specialists.
Stanislav Fedorov
Живой классик изучения советской повседневности 1930-х.
excellent description of stalisnism and its impact
Even better than Alchemy Tried in the FIre!
Mar 03, 2012 Zane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: In Soviet Russia, book recommends YOU
Recommended to Zane by: [ugh, that was terrible. I'm so sorry]
Warning: May Contain Yakov Smirnoff
Chris marked it as to-read
Nov 26, 2014
Nadyatna marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2014
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Sheila Fitzpatrick (born June 4, 1941, Melbourne) is an Australian-American historian. She teaches Soviet History at the University of Chicago.

Fitzpatrick's research focuses on the social and cultural history of the Stalinist period, particularly on aspects of social identity and daily life. She is currently concentrating on the social and cultural changes in Soviet Russia of the 1950s and 1960s.

More about Sheila Fitzpatrick...
The Russian Revolution 1917-1932 In the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from 1917 to the Second World War Stalin's Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village After Collectivization Stalinism: New Directions The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia

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“in 1936, the NKVD mood-watchers noted the opinion that Soviet foreign policy was too soft and Hitler’s boldness was to be admired. Hitler was described as charismatic, “very intelligent,” and a man who had worked his way up from the bottom; a student said, “The Fascists are constructing socialism in a peaceful way. Hitler and the fascists are clever people.” In the hungry winter of 1936– 37, approving comments on Hitler multiplied. “People say ‘Better in Germany.’ ‘If Hitler takes power, it will be better in Russia. Only Hitler can give life to the people.” 0 likes
“One of the substantive policy issues raised in the Constitution discussion (primarily in letters rather than public meetings, it seems) was the abolition of discrimination, including deprivation of rights, on grounds of social class. The draft Constitution incorporated this important policy change, which was subsequently enacted into law (see Chapter 5). But not everyone approved—in fact, the majority of letters dealing with this issue were uneasy about ending discrimination.” 0 likes
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