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The Nature of Soviet Power
An Arctic Environmental History


Part of Studies in Environment and History

  • Date Published: June 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316507926

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About the Authors
  • During the twentieth century, the Soviet Union turned the Kola Peninsula in the northwest corner of the country into one of the most populated, industrialized, militarized, and polluted parts of the Arctic. This transformation suggests, above all, that environmental relations fundamentally shaped the Soviet experience. Interactions with the natural world both enabled industrial livelihoods and curtailed socialist promises. Nature itself was a participant in the communist project. Taking a long-term comparative perspective, The Nature of Soviet Power sees Soviet environmental history as part of the global pursuit for unending economic growth among modern states. This in-depth exploration of railroad construction, the mining and processing of phosphorus-rich apatite, reindeer herding, nickel and copper smelting, and energy production in the region examines Soviet cultural perceptions of nature, plans for development, lived experiences, and modifications to the physical world. While Soviet power remade nature, nature also remade Soviet power.

    • Interprets Soviet history as an environmental story, allowing readers to appreciate the influence of the natural world in the broad history of the USSR
    • Offers an Arctic history of a relatively unknown, but extensively developed, territory
    • Presents a novel way of summarizing overarching attitudes about nature in the Soviet Union
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is an exciting, meticulously researched, and path-breaking contribution to the environmental history of Russia and the Soviet Union. It demonstrates a prodigious amount of research, both in archival and in secondary literatures. Bruno is able to contextualize his own work within evolving discussions of environmental history in Russia and other regions. With a well-structured and readable narrative, while reading it myself I imagined how I would use it in the classroom.' Jane Costlow, Bates College, Maine

    'The Nature of Soviet Power is an ambitious and thought-provoking book on an important topic, especially in light of the growing importance of polar regions in the era of climate change. The research presented is remarkably erudite, drawing upon an astonishing breadth of primary and secondary sources. It explicitly strives to reach new conclusions and probe for new explanations to account for the many environmental failures of Soviet industrialization of the far north. The book should make a strong contribution to the scholarly understanding of Soviet environmental history, and I laud the author for the tremendous effort that is visible on every page.' Stephen Brain, Mississippi State University

    'Telling the dramatic story of the far-reaching transformation of the Kola Peninsula in the Russian far north, Bruno speaks to larger truths of environmental change in the USSR and the world in the twentieth century. Well-written and deeply researched, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in the relationship between state power and environmental change and a vivid example of the best new scholarship on Russian environmental history.' Willard Sunderland, University of Cincinnati

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316507926
    • length: 310 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Nature and power in the Soviet North
    2. Assimilation and conquest
    3. Stalinism as an ecosystem
    4. Deep in the tundra
    5. Scarring the beautiful surroundings
    6. Transforming but not transcending
    7. The life of the Soviet environment.

  • Author

    Andy Bruno, Northern Illinois University
    Andy Bruno is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Faculty Associate in Environmental Studies at Northern Illinois University.

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