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Engineers of the Soul: In the Footsteps of Stalin's Writers
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Engineers of the Soul: In the Footsteps of Stalin's Writers

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Leta 1932 je Stalin prvikrat uporabil frazo ‘inženirji duše’ in z leti je to postal še predobro znan in zastrašujoč koncept. Pisatelji naj bi – enako kot pravi inženirji – pripomogli k definitivni utemeljitvi komunističnega paradiža ter pomagali zgraditi t.i. ‘novega človeka’. Pisateljem so oblasti kot dodatno nalogo namenile tudi hvalo graditeljev in tako so dela o ogromn ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published August 4th 2011 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Lorenzo Berardi
I never like giving five stars to a book.
There is something of over enthusiastic in giving the highest marking to any work of art. I am definitely not a naively optimist person. Besides, I do indulge on excessive criticism.

But it's time to be honest.
Therefore, hands up! I'm defeated.
"Engineers of the Soul" won. And Frank Westerman's writing style won me over.

Back on December 2011 I had never heard about this book and its author.
The only Dutch journalist familiar to me (after a semester spent s
Frank Dedge
This is how non-fiction should be to me: not choking on endless details, build on a thrilling narrative and crisscrossing between different but related subjects.

In this particular case, Soviet Realism literary history is mixed with the subject of most of these books, hydraulic mega-projects. Following Gorki, Platonov and most of all Paustovsky, readers will learn about Stalinist purges, Turkmenistan customs and the hidden history of some of the gigantic canal projects that were at the core of t
Toby Litt
This is an eccentric book, which really should have a subtitle about hydro-engineering or Soviet canals - because a lot of pages are devoted to the links between vast waterworks and tyrannous regimes.

Westerman loosely follows in the wake of Soviet writer Konstantin Paustovsky. He is fascinated by Paustovsky's novel Kara Bogaz. He wants to find out the truth behind it.

Comparisons to Chatwin aren't valid. Westerman is nothing like that kind of original stylist. But it's worth reading for the hidde
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
Oct 11, 2011 Lisa Hayden Espenschade rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Soviet-era writers
Recommended to Lisa by: review copy from the Overlook Press, thank you!
Engineers of the Soul is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of nonfiction about writers in the Soviet era and the strictures they faced: Westerman focuses on Konstantin Paustovsky but also offers details on the lives of Maxim Gorky and Andrei Platonov, among others. I was especially happy to read a bit about irrigation in the former Soviet Union.

(There's more about Engineers of the Soul on my blog, here.)
This was such a good book. Even though the topic was nonfiction, something I sometimes find boring, I found Westerman's writing style very fluid and captivating. You really get involved in the lives of some of these writers. It was also a good introduction into Russia's modern past and Stalin.
Linda Lamar
Fascinating, obscure topic. I like the author's inspiration to write the book based on a discrepancy he found between two maps of the territory. Good writing makes the coverage of soviet salt basin mining surprisingly interesting.
Collin Case
The most interesting book on Hydraulic Engineering that I'll ever read.

In all seriousness, props to Westerman and his insane research in tracking the fractured history of Kara Bogaz, and furthermore, the curious rise of Soviet Realism.
Jelle de Jong
leest als een trein. schokkend om de controle op literatuur te zien in het stalinistische tijdperk. en de manier waarop gedacht moest worden over indrukwekkend grote en ingrijpende waterwerken.
Interesants vēstures/ceļojuma/detektīvstāsta sajaukums, bet bišķi trūka sajūtas, ka tas viss patiešām dotos kādā noteiktā virzienā.
May 11, 2014 Toru marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
CSer Iva from Croatia/Slovenia recommends it! Russian engineering ambitions, social realism, and reality, told as a researcher travelogue
Sandro marked it as to-read
Nov 14, 2014
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