The Soviet Union: A Documentary History Volume 2
By Edward Acton and Tom Stableford
Volume Two of this new documentary history of the Soviet Union comprises over 270 documents and is organised into four chronologically distinct parts, subdivided thematically; it runs from the fraught diplomatic and military preamble of the Great Patriotic War to the final fracturing of the USSR along the national fault-lines of its 15 Union Republics. Slight overlap of chronological coverage with Volume One allows increased attention in Volume Two to foreign affairs. Areas in this volume that attract greatest student interest are the epic dramas at the beginning and end of the period — the Great Patriotic War and Perestroika.
The commentary is by Edward Acton, Professor of Modern European History at the University of East Anglia, who has published widely on the Russian revolution and the history of Russia and the USSR. The documents have been translated by Tom Stableford, Assistant Librarian, Slavonic and East European Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford
Contents: Note on transliteration, Russian words and acronyms; Glossary; Maps; Introduction; Part One: Dealing with Hitler, 1939-1941; 1 The Nazi-Soviet Pact; 2 The Winter War; 3 Military Reform and Buffer-Building Against Germany; 4 Stalin's Disastrous Miscalculation; Part Two: Invasion and the Great Patriotic War, 1941-45; 5 Barbarossa; 6 Allies; 7 Stiffening Soviet Resistance; 8 The Siege of Leningrad; 9 The Germans Outside Moscow; 10 German Occupation; 11 The Home Front, Legitimacy and the Economic War-Effort; 12 The Turning of the Tide: Stalingrad and Kursk; 13 Expectations; 14 Repression; Part Three: Stabilization and Stagnation, 1945-1985; 15 The Cold War; 16 The Command Economy; 17 The One-Party State; 18 Marxism-Leninism and Dissent; Part Four: Crisis and Collapse, 1985-1991; 19 The End of the Cold War and the "Socialist Commonwealth"; 20 The End of the Command Economy; 21 Glasnost'; 22 Democratization; 23 Nationalism; 24 The Break-up of the USSR; Full List of Documents; Biographical index; Subject index.
‘As with the first volume the strengths of this book lie in two related things. The first is the width and variety of the sources…’
‘The second outstanding strength is the quality and insight of the commentary which weaves its way between the selected sources…as in Volume 1, this volume cannot be faulted in this respect. The informative yet nuanced interpretative views which help link the sources together, tied in with suggestions for what recent literature is worth a further read on that topic, helps bring the reader right up-to-date with present thinking. To help keep things clear, the last 80 pages are general and place indexes, a very good biographical index and a list of all the sources in the book.’
‘All in all then, a wide-ranging set of documents and a perspicacious commentary of the final 50 years of a super-power, that we thought was indestructible. Well worth the read.’
History Teaching Review Year Book, Vol. 21, 2007
‘Impresses due to both the sheer volume and variety of documentation—all of which is interspersed with judicious historical commentary. Alternating well-chosen documents with balanced commentary and brief discussions (in footnotes) of relevant secondary sources. Finally, like Volume 1, Volume 2 also includes helpful sections, such as a glossary of Russian words and acronyms, a guide to further reading, a map section (including a map detailing the deportation of Soviet minorities under Stalin), and an excellent forty nine-page bibliographical index. To sum up, then, Volume 2 of The Soviet Union: A Documentary History is an excellent research or educational resource versatile enough to be used in-class either for supplementary primary source reading or as a textbook in its own right.’
Michael G. Stefany, The Russian Review, Vol. 67, No. 3, July 2008
‘This is not the first such collection, but it is perhaps one of the most successful and it does an excellent job of giving those who do not speak Russian “a taste of the intellectual feast that is underway” (p. xviii). One of the strengths of this volume is that it gives such extensive coverage to the war and late Soviet period. In addition to the documents, the editors provide lucid, clear explanations of the context in which the document was produced. This volume will appeal to the general reader interested in the discoveries made in the archives since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it will also prove invaluable for teachers of Soviet history as a welcome and highly successful addition to the source material currently available in English.’
Miriam Dobson, EHR, cxxiii, 501, April 2008
‘This is an excellent document collection. The intrinsic value of the documents is self-evident. Their arrangement and presentation offer a dramatic depiction of the course of later Soviet History.’
'this collection will be extremely useful in university courses, both at the introductory and more advances levels. I can think of no other single collection that can compare.’
Lynne Viola, European History Quarterly, vol. 40. January 2010
The commentary is by Edward Acton, Professor of Modern European History at the University of East Anglia, who has published widely on the Russian revolution and the history of Russia and the USSR. The documents have been translated by Tom Stableford, Assistant Librarian, Slavonic and East European Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford.