Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation
By Alexei Yurchak
Why this book?
Like the French Revolution, the collapse of Soviet communism shocked—but somehow did not surprise—those who lived through it. (The former struck Tocqueville as “inevitable yet … completely unforeseen.”) This brilliant study by the Berkeley anthropologist Alexei Yurchak comes closer than any other I’ve read to explaining the strange sense of immutability that pervaded late Soviet life. One fascinating detail—whenever Brezhnev awarded himself another medal, artists had to sneak into official buildings at night to paint the new addition onto the General Secretary’s portraits. Such continual tweaks were essential to preserving the impression of stasis.
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