• Title: Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile
  • Author: Lewis H. Siegelbaum
  • Released: 2011-03-04
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 328
  • ISBN: 0801477212
  • ISBN13: 978-0801477218
  • ASIN: 0801477212
Review

"Siegelbaum has produced a superb account of Soviet life as viewed through the lens of the failed Soviet struggle to match the capitalist West, and the United States in particular, auto for auto and highway for highway, while denying its citizens the mobility that would undermine the Soviet state. . . . The book is a pleasure to read and . . . brings an important part of the history of the Soviet Union to light by illustrating the day-to-day workings of its economic system."—Andrew Morriss, Books & Culture, January/February 2009



"A groundbreaking chronicle of the contradictory, faltering, and fascinating march toward automobilism in the USSR."—Tom Vanderbilt, Times Literary Supplement, 30 January 2009



"Siegelbaum's book is impressive. It deserves to be heralded by a whole Moscow traffic-jam full of tooting horns."—American Historical Review



"Cars for Comrades is a complex, sophisticated, and entertaining history of cars and trucks in the Soviet Union."—Business History Review



"Lewis H. Siegelbaum explores the curious antinomy between the car and Communism. On the one hand, the production of cars was a symbol of Communism. The building of car-producing factories was an important criterion for catching up with and surpassing America. On the other hand, almost nobody had a car in their personal possession in the early Soviet years. The production itself was important, not the result, which is not surprising if we take into account that a car was a symbol of personal independence."—Slavic and East European Journal



"Placing himself at the crossroads of social, economic, and cultural history, Lewis Siegelbaum tells us the new and compelling story of the Soviet automobile. He sheds unexpected light on all manner of subjects: Soviet relations with the West, industrialization and urbanization, and private life and consumption. Elegantly constructed and impeccably researched, this book is a substantial contribution to the study of Soviet civilization."—Stephen Lovell, King's College London

"This is a great book by a great historian, working at the top of his game. It is a work of passion and terrific imagination, not to mention prodigious and resourceful industry. It is also wonderfully original. Lewis H. Siegelbaum tells a compelling story that moves right along and does so with clarity and wit. Cars for Comrades will take its place among the indispensable works on Russian and Soviet history."—Robert Edelman, University of California, San Diego



"The intersection of automobiles and private transportation with a communist government and workers' society is always fascinating, and Lewis H. Siegelbaum's well-researched and engagingly written exploration of the history of cars in the Soviet Union is an interesting ride from start to finish."—Richard Schweid, author of Che's Chevrolet and Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba



"What seems to me particularly innovative in this rich and intriguingly written book is the idea that automobiles live their own lives like humans. Discussing the aphorism 'Russia has two misfortunes—fools and poor roads,' Lewis H. Siegelbaum adds a lot to our understanding of how the Soviet regime actually ruled and how ordinary people really lived."—Sergei Zhuravlev, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences

"This wonderful book is engagingly written and thoroughly researched. Lewis H. Siegelbaum links the important themes of Soviet history with new and less familiar issues of private life, consumption, and the everyday. Cars for Comrades has something for everyone: fiction, stories, technical details, and above all, a new and compelling way to understand the history of the Soviet Union as a system based on material goods and mobility as well as on repression."—Diane P. Koenker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, author of Republic of Labor and coeditor of Turizm



"This comprehensive history of Soviet cars relies on unique data and presents many interesting and intriguing historical episodes and details. Lewis H. Siegelbaum succeeds, in an exemplary manner, in combining technological, industrial, and political aspects of history with a keen analysis of the social and cultural conditions and consequences of Soviet 'automobilism.' He takes us on an exciting ride through Soviet history from the 1920s and 1930s—when the Ford car factories became the primary example and model of modern industrial production and even industrial society at large—to Brezhnev's times in the 1970's when, for the first time in history, ordinary Soviet citizens could seriously think of getting a private car of their own. Siegelbaum shows interestingly how private cars, and above all the famous LADA produced by AVTOVAZ in Togliatti, soon became sought-after and cherished consumer goods. In many ways unanticipated by the leaders of the Communist Party and the State Planning Offices, automobiles drastically changed the social and cultural scene of the whole country by planting the seeds of possessive individualism in the minds of many Soviet citizens."—Jukka Gronow, Uppsala University

From the Back Cover "Placing himself at the crossroads of social, economic, and cultural history, Lewis Siegelbaum tells us the new and compelling story of the Soviet automobile. He sheds unexpected light on all manner of subjects: Soviet relations with the West, industrialization and urbanization, and private life and consumption. Elegantly constructed and impeccably researched, this book is a substantial contribution to the study of Soviet civilization."--Stephen Lovell, King's College London

"This is a great book by a great historian, working at the top of his game. It is a work of passion and terrific imagination, not to mention prodigious and resourceful industry. It is also wonderfully original. Lewis H. Siegelbaum tells a compelling story that moves right along and does so with clarity and wit. Cars for Comrades will take its place among the indispensable works on Russian and Soviet history."--Robert Edelman, University of California, San Diego, author of Serious Fun

"The intersection of automobiles and private transportation with a communist government and workers' society is always fascinating, and Lewis H. Siegelbaum's well-researched and engagingly written exploration of the history of cars in the Soviet Union is an interesting ride from start to finish."--Richard Schweid, author of Che's Chevrolet and Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba

"What seems to me particularly innovative in this rich and intriguingly written book is the idea that automobiles live their own lives like humans. Discussing the aphorism 'Russia has two misfortunes--fools and poor roads,' Lewis H. Siegelbaum adds a lot to our understanding of how the Soviet regime actually ruled and how ordinary people really lived."--Sergei Zhuravlev, Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences

"This wonderful book is engagingly written and thoroughly researched. Lewis H. Siegelbaum links the important themes of Soviet history with new and less familiar issues of private life, consumption, and the everyday. Cars for Comrades has something for everyone: fiction, stories, technical details, and above all, a new and compelling way to understand the history of the Soviet Union as a system based on material goods and mobility as well as on repression."--Diane P. Koenker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, author of Republic of Labor, and coeditor of Turizm

"This comprehensive history of Soviet cars relies on unique data and presents many interesting and intriguing historical episodes and details. Lewis H. Siegelbaum succeeds, in an exemplary manner, in combining technological, industrial, and political aspects of history with a keen analysis of the social and cultural conditions and consequences of Soviet "automobilism." He takes us on an exciting ride through Soviet history from the 1920s and 1930s--when the Ford car factories became the primary example and model of modern industrial production and even industrial society at large--to Brezhnev's times in the 1970's when, for the first time in history, ordinary Soviet citizens could seriously think of getting a private car of their own. Siegelbaum shows interestingly how private cars, and above all the famous LADA produced by AVTOVAZ in Togliatti, soon became sought-after and cherished consumer goods. In many ways unanticipated by the leaders of the Communist Party and the State Planning Offices, automobiles drastically changed the social and cultural scene of the whole country by planting the seeds of possessive individualism in the minds of many Soviet citizens."--Jukka Gronow, Uppsala University --This text refers to the edition.

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