Guns and Rubles


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The Defense Industry in the Stalinist State

Edited by Mark Harrison

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For this book a distinguished team of economists and historians—R. W. Davies, Paul R. Gregory, Andrei Markevich, Mikhail Mukhin, Andrei Sokolov, and Mark Harrison—scoured formerly closed Soviet archives to discover how Stalin used rubles to make guns. Focusing on various aspects of the defense industry, a top-secret branch of the Soviet economy, the volume’s contributors uncover new information on the inner workings of Stalin’s dictatorship, military and economic planning, and the industrial organization of the Soviet economy.


Previously unknown details about Stalin’s command system come to light, as do fascinating insights into the relations between Soviet public and private interests. The authors show that defense was at the core of Stalin’s system of rule; single-minded management of the defense sector helped him keep his grip on power.

Mark Harrison is professor of economics, University of Warwick; honorary senior fellow of the Centre for Russian and East European studies, University of Birmingham; and distinguished visiting fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University. He lives in Coventry, UK.

"This volume covers a hugely important topic and is bursting with findings. It marries rich empirical detail with sophisticated theoretical treatment."—Yoram Gorlizki, University of Manchester

"This book  presents a clear picture of the role of the defence sector in economic planning in the USSR in the pre-World War II period. It combines economic analysis with archival research."—Michael Ellman, University of Amsterdam

"In the last decade a group of scholars have finally shown us how Stalin's dictatorship worked. Now they demystify one of the paradoxes of the Soviet Union: how could central planning have defeated the Nazis? The book will be a must read for all those interested in dictatorship and the political economy of development."—James Robinson, Harvard University

"Mark Harrison and his colleagues have produced a volume that is as important as it is fascinating. The defense industry has always been the heart of the Soviet economy, and to understand the command economy it is best to begin by studying its development under Stalin. Harrison and his colleagues combine archival work and economic analysis to explain the development and operation of the defense sector and its relationship to the rest of the economy. This book will greatly add to our understanding not only of the Stalinist economy and central planning, but to the study of dictatorships in general."—Barry W. Ickes, The Pennsylvania State University

"A richly documented and richly rewarding collection of papers on a central but secretive component of the Stalinist economy. . . .Guns and Rubles makes astonishing use of hundreds of archival documents to shed microeconomic light on the early decades of the Soviet defense industry. . . . A fascinating study that sets the bar for careful, archive-based scholarship in the economic history of defense production and the Stalinist system."—Steven Nafziger, EH.Net Book Review

"Guns and Rubles is a thorough study on the history of the Soviet defense industry. It gives new insights and a lot of details on the decision-making processes and the planning of military-industrial projects. These articles thus provide a very useful framework for further studies of Stalinism in general, before, during, and after World War II." —Lennart Samuelson, The Russian Review

“Guns and Rubles is certainly a valuable addition to the literature, providing a range of insights into the functioning of the Stalinist defence economy that are founded on what appears to be very solid archival research.”—Alexander Hill, Slavonic and East European Review Vol.89 No.2
ISBN: 9780300209129
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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