I had a long conversation with my brother about communist Russia last night. It’s not really an area I can talk about, execpt that I’d recently read enough to make me look semi-smart. My reading was of Samuel H. Baron’s Bloody Saturday in the Soviet Union: Novocherkassk, 1962.
Review From Library Journal:
Baron (history emeritus, Univ. of North Carolina; Plekhanov in Russian History and Soviet Historiography) brings to light events of nearly 40 years ago that foreshadowed the demise of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet leadership under Khrushchev decided to raise the price of food in 1962, a spontaneous strike broke out at the Electric Locomotive Construction Works (NEVZ) in Novocher-kassk. The strike bore an eerie resemblance to the workers’ strike in 1905 dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” which nearly toppled the reigning tsar. The 1962 strike was brutally quashed, with hundreds wounded and 70 dead and secretly buried. The incident was hushed from the outset, and very little information trickled out until the watershed period of 1991. Baron’s last paragraph states, “As Bloody Sunday had radically transformed the way the masses of people perceived the tsarist regime, similarly, if less immediately, Bloody Saturday helped to destroy the legitimacy of the Soviet regime,” and he does a creditable job of making this case, though it is one of hindsight. The research, drawn from first-hand interviews and the official KGB review of the incident, is probably as solid as one can expect. And though the subject is academic, the presentation is accessible to lay readers; this reader didn’t want it to end so soon. The only contemporary work this can be compared with is Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, which has been proven to be inaccurate about this event. Recommended for all libraries. Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Madison
I’ve been meaning to blog about the book for a while, because I found it interesting and instructive. I’m trying to understand the Cold War and US economic policies of the last 50 years. This book helped.