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Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel
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Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  363 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews

"Students reading Scott have come away with a real appreciation of the hardships under which these workers built Magnitogorsk and of the nearly incredible enthusiasm with which many of them worked." —Ronald Grigor Suny

"A genuine grassroots account of Soviet life—a type of book of which there have been far too few." —William Henry Chamberlin, New York Times, 1943


Paperback, 306 pages
Published August 22nd 1989 by Indiana University Press (first published 1942)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 31, 2011 Manray9 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, memoirs
An American worker goes to Magnitogorsk to "build socialism" during the First Five Year Plan. A memoir of a true believer.
Paul Phillips
Feb 14, 2017 Paul Phillips rated it really liked it
I read this in a history class on totalitarianism, the book itself told the human story behind totalitarian regimes and the impact of Stalin's five year plans on ordinary working people. The one thing I remember is the disillusionment of the author, his optimism upon reaching what he thought would be a socialist utopia and his realization of the hardship and squalor of industrializing USSR.
Sep 02, 2008 Zack rated it really liked it
Recommended to Zack by: Prof. Willis Brooks (required reading for his class)
Shelves: read-in-2008
This is a very well-detailed description of life in a Soviet Steel Town during the Stalin era. Written by the son of Helen and Scott Nearing (of "Living the Good Life" fame), it consists of the remembrances of an American who decides to work in the great experiment that was Communist Russia. There's an awful lot of data to digest here, but (if tables and charts aren't your thing) glossing over the production statistics won't impair your enjoyment of this book. If Scott is guilty of anything it i ...more
Nov 15, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Fascinating account of life in a Soviet start-up industrial city during a very interesting period (1930s). Magnitogorsk was built to rival the steel production capability of massive steel centers such as Gary, Indiana. Built with imported equipment and by uneducated farmers, the project is obtained with much blood and sweat.

Scott goes between depictions of daily life and descriptions of industrial conditions and materials. His accounts of daily life are the most interesting, but the information
Feb 01, 2008 Ben rated it it was ok
The book presented an interesting view of a segment of Russian society, from about 1932 - 1940. In the book you learn about how Russia built and industrial revolution in a very short period of time. The author kind of glazes over the atrocities and horrible conditions of these times and even of Stalins great purges of 1938 - 1939. He does talk about them, but he tries to accentuate the positive. Not really the good, but more positive then the reality probably was. He usually does this economical ...more
Mary Kate
Mar 15, 2016 Mary Kate rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, but I'll round up.

This was one of the more enjoyable non-fiction books I've read (though I don't read many). It followed John Scott as he lived and learned in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. It was definitely revealing, giving an insider perspective from an outsider, and Scott created a nice balance between personal narrative and history. It was quite informative and easy to read, all in all, a pleasant experience.
Jun 17, 2012 Nadja rated it really liked it
A compelling tale... like pretty much everyone else who thought the Soviet state was a great idea of human progress, the reality was disappointing. Worth reading to get insight into the push to industrialize and the reality of Soviet life.
Allen Lotz
Nov 27, 2011 Allen Lotz rated it really liked it
An interesting story of ex-patriot moving to the freshly minted Soviet Union during the Great Depression. A little heavy on statistical data, but telling of the enduring hardships faced against the weather and the Soviet bureaucracy in forming their new government.
Oct 24, 2007 Jaimie rated it really liked it
This book is not for everyone. But...if you are interested in history without being a fanatic, this is a good read. It is written as a memoir to some extent and deals with life in post-revolution Russia (USSR, whatever) and the people who immigrated there with big ideals.
Steven Tiberius
Feb 27, 2007 Steven Tiberius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Froo Froos
I can't remember a single God-foreskin thing about this book except that I read it for an Intro to Politics class my first quarter of college.
Ben Jaques-Leslie
Jun 19, 2012 Ben Jaques-Leslie rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the early years of the Soviet Union told by an American who went to the USSR shortly after the revolution.
Feb 27, 2014 Lillian rated it liked it
Shelves: textbooks, history
Textbook for 20th Century Russia class. Good first hand account of Russia's first Five Year Plan. I thought it was a little dry and slow in some parts.
Feb 15, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it
Fascinating story of an American mechanical engineer who went to the USSR to build the Magnitogorsk iron and steel complex. Unbelievable working conditions and a fascinating story
Melinda Brown
Jul 09, 2008 Melinda Brown rated it really liked it
I read this book in college and enjoyed it greatly because it proved how horrible the communist system was.
Sep 24, 2008 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story - primary source for a time and era for which primary sources are difficult to find. Surprisingly easy to read.
Apr 27, 2015 Almielag rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book that takes on a decidedly different tone once you get to the appendices and find the dispatches the author sent back to the US State Dept during his stay in the USSR.
Feb 07, 2011 Jaclyn rated it really liked it
Clear, journalistic writing makes this account incredibly insightful, while simultaneously (and possibly without Scott's knowledge) pointing to the extreme tension of the Soviet system.
Josie rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2014
Kimba Tichenor
Kimba Tichenor rated it liked it
Mar 20, 2016
Upaasna Kaul
Upaasna Kaul rated it really liked it
May 05, 2009
Kyle rated it really liked it
Aug 10, 2015
Elaine Hess-teague
Elaine Hess-teague rated it it was ok
Apr 10, 2016
Nicole rated it it was ok
Apr 18, 2015
Will rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2012
Alex rated it it was amazing
Jul 21, 2013
Dylan Salisbury
Dylan Salisbury rated it it was ok
Jan 30, 2013
Allegra Pocinki
Allegra Pocinki rated it liked it
Jun 05, 2014
Rachel Whitman
Rachel Whitman rated it liked it
Nov 27, 2013
Kevin Snow
Kevin Snow rated it really liked it
Jun 01, 2013
Tim LaVoie
Tim LaVoie rated it liked it
Jan 29, 2014
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John Scott is a Canadian professional ice hockey player in the National Hockey League. Scott previously played for the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Montreal Canadiens of the NHL. Scott was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a mechan
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