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T.C.A. Raghavan

HISTORY OF THE U.S.S.R. (3 VOLUMES)
By
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1977, price not stated.

VOLUME III NUMBER 4 January/February 1979

It is not an easy task to review a set of volumes, the first of which begins with the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages, and the third ends with a chapter, devoted to the ‘Development of Socialist culture.’ In fact, considering that the contents of the first volume are far removed in time from October 1917 the title is a bit of a misnomer. The volumes make difficult reading as often the narration becomes a mere chronicle of events with facts and figures followed by more of the same. In a way given the scope of the work this is inevitable. Yet often one cannot help' wishing (especially in volume II & III) that the editors could have found a way of relieving the monotony created by the dreary monologue of the good intentions and the achievements of the U.S.S.R. The second and third volumes of this set often lead one to presume that the arguments contained therein have been lifted from the speeches of successive Soviet ministers. Even the account of the revolution and the events which followed can be at best called simplistic. Yet, what marks these volumes distinctively as being official histories is the fact that there is scarcely any discussion of the internal resistance which the soviet regime could have faced after it had established itself. The general nature of narration is as fol­lows: Policies are mentioned, shown how they would assist in the socialist transfor­mation of the U.S.S.R., the enthusiasm which accompanied their implementation is then described, and the next event is taken up. Now and then a drawback is mentioned, a mistake pointed out—but only to show how it was corrected. There is scarcely any mention of the opposition which might have resulted from the imple­mentation of what was felt to be desirable, but turned out to be a highly unpopular policy. The factors which makes one skeptical about the authenticity of the work follow from this procedure. It is difficult for any student of history to imagine that such profound and fundamental change as the Soviet Union has seen in this century could have been achieved so easily. Collectivi­zation and the ‘elimination of the kulaks as a class’ are dealt with in some detail. But the substance of this description does not tackle, except for a few stray sentences, the heart of the matter. How ...


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