Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, And The Fate Of Reform After Stalin by Miriam DobsonKhrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, And The Fate Of Reform After Stalin by Miriam Dobson

Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, And The Fate Of Reform After Stalin

byMiriam Dobson

Paperback | September 16, 2011

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Between Stalin's death in 1953 and 1960, the government of the Soviet Union released hundreds of thousands of prisoners from the Gulag as part of a wide-ranging effort to reverse the worst excesses and abuses of the previous two decades and revive the spirit of the revolution. This exodus included not only victims of past purges but also those sentenced for criminal offenses.

In Khrushchev's Cold Summer, Miriam Dobson explores the impact of these returnees on communities and, more broadly, Soviet attempts to come to terms with the traumatic legacies of Stalin's terror. Confusion and disorientation undermined the regime's efforts at recovery. In the wake of Stalin's death, ordinary citizens and political leaders alike struggled to make sense of the country's recent bloody past and to cope with the complex social dynamics caused by attempts to reintegrate the large influx of returning prisoners, a number of whom were hardened criminals alienated and embittered by their experiences within the brutal camp system.

Drawing on private letters as well as official reports on the party and popular mood, Dobson probes social attitudes toward the changes occurring in the first post-Stalin decade. Throughout, she features personal stories as articulated in the words of ordinary citizens, prisoners, and former prisoners. At the same time, she explores Soviet society's contradictory responses to the returnees and shows that for many the immediate post-Stalin years were anything but a breath of spring air after the long Stalinist winter.

Miriam Dobson is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Sheffield. She is the coeditor of Reading Primary Sources: The Interpretation of Texts from Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History.
Title:Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, And The Fate Of Reform After StalinFormat:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.27 inPublished:September 16, 2011Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801477484

ISBN - 13:9780801477485

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Table of Contents


Part I. Re-imagining the Soviet World after Stalin, 1953–1956
1. 1953: "The Most Painful Year"
2. Prisoners and the Art of Petitioning, 1953–1956
3. Heroes, Enemies, and the Secret Speech

Part II. Stalin's Outcasts Return: Moral Panic and the Cult of Criminality
4. Returnees, Crime, and the Gulag Subculture
5. The Redemptive Mission
6. A Return to Weeding

Part III. A Fragile Solution? From the Twenty-Second Party Congress to Khrushchev’s Ouster
7. 1961: Clearing a Path to the Future
8. Literary Hooligans and Parasites



Editorial Reviews

"In this major revisionist study, Miriam Dobson details one of the most important chapters in the history of Khrushchev's reforms. The release of hundreds of thousands of prisoners from the Gulag, before and after Khrushchev's secret speech, symbolized and reflected the regime's efforts at de-Stalinization. At the same time, the release of these prisoners, only a minority of whom were political prisoners, led to a wave of crime and social anxiety across the Soviet Union, resulting in the paradox of this reform ultimately leading the regime back to illegality in the interests of law and order. Based on a wide variety of declassified archival sources, Khrushchev's Cold Summer shows both the extent to which Stalinism endured in Soviet society and the multiple obstacles to change. The result is a fascinating tale of society's response to Khrushchev's reforms based on an astute analysis and sympathetic reading of hundreds of unpublished letters to leaders, journals, and newspapers."—Lynne Viola, University of Toronto, author of The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin's Special Settlements