Myth, Memory, Trauma


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Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union, 1953-70

Polly Jones

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Drawing on newly available materials from the Soviet archives, Polly Jones offers an innovative, comprehensive account of de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev and early Brezhnev eras. Jones traces the authorities’ initiation and management of the de-Stalinization process and explores a wide range of popular reactions to the new narratives of Stalinism in party statements and in Soviet literature and historiography.


Engaging with the dynamic field of memory studies, this book represents the first sustained comparison of this process with other countries’ attempts to rethink their own difficult pasts, and with later Soviet and post-Soviet approaches to Stalinism.

Polly Jones is the Schrecker-Barbour Fellow and Associate Professor of Russian at University College, University of Oxford. She lives in Oxford, UK.

"What a book! Moving deftly between history and literary scholarship, Polly Jones shows how Stalin’s ghost continued to haunt Soviet society after 1953. Prodigiously researched and beautifully written, Myth, Memory, Trauma is bound to become the standard work on the Stalin cult’s long afterlife." —Jan Plamper, author of The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power (YUP, 2012)

"It’s often assumed that Khrushchev’s Secret Speech initiated a straightforward, natural process of de-Stalinization in the USSR. Polly Jones challenges this commonplace in an interdisciplinary tour de force that rewrites much of the political, cultural and literary history of the period." - David Brandenberger, author of Propaganda State in Crisis (YUP 2011)

"Jones’ excellent, nuanced, and empirically-rich book requires us to re-think, in important and surprising ways, our understandings of de-Stalinization, of the nature of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras, of the relationship between “official” and “popular” memory, and of Soviet exceptionalism." - Anne Gorsuch, author of All This Is Your World: Soviet Tourism at Home and Abroad (Oxford 2012)

“At every step, Jones presents a nuanced, complex and detailed examination of the attempt to come to terms with Stalin’s memory and legacy over two decades. . .Jones has mined a wealth of archival sources to construct her careful, judicious analysis. . .This lucid, elegantly written work is an important contribution to the question of the way nations deal with their difficult and traumatic histories.”—Lara Cook, Times Higher Education Supplement

‘Polly Jones’s authoritative and densely detailed new study focuses on the period from 1956 until about 1965, when an intense, fluctuating discussion of Stalinism took place.’—Wendy Slater, TLS

'Polly Jones’ brilliantly researched study of de-Stalinisation in the Krushchev and Brezhnev eras. . . provides one of the most sophisticated and nuanced analyses of the complexities of de-Stalinisation currently available.’—History Today

“Jones is to be commended for this new volume that further contributes to our knowledge of de-Stalinization….specialists in the field will welcome the book’s close attention to detail and nuanced examples.”—Canadian Slavonic Papers

“[Myth, Memory, Trauma] offers an admirably comprehensive and nuanced picture of the zigzags of Soviet leaders and writers as they sought to construct a usable past in the decade and a half after 1956.”—Phillip Boobbyer, University of Kent

“An important book that provides the reader with a better understanding of the unfinished de-Stalinization of Russia, its successes and natural limits, and gives us a new base for understanding the current turns in Russia’s Historical politics.”—Ivan Kurilla, Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies
ISBN: 9780300185126
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
376 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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