From perestroika to Putin: a recent history of Russia's turbulent transformation from communist to post-communist nation
From Soviet to Post-Soviet Russia, 1985-2000
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Revolutionary Passage is a cultural, social, and political history of Russia during its critical period of transformation at the end of the twentieth century. Marc Garcelon traces the history of perestroika and the rise of Vladimir Putin, arguing that the pressure Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms put on the Soviet system gave birth to movements for democratic change. He also shows that the very political arrangements that prompted the fall of Communism also killed hopes for subsequent reform.
At the turning point of this political revolution stood Democratic Russia, or DemRossiia, the principal organization of the Russian democratic movement that helped to dismantle the Soviet system and force the Soviet leadership to change course. However, as post-Soviet Russia committed itself to globalization and U.S.-style economic reforms, the country directed itself away from the Democratic reforms called for by organizations like DemRossiia, and such groups collapsed. Revolutionary Passage provides a close examination of the DemRossiia. Garcelon deftly illuminates the rise and decline of this organization, and how the processes of revolutionary change impacted both Russia and the world.
"Revolutionary Passage is an outstanding account of the whole epoch starting with Gorbachev's reforms through the years of Boris Yeltsin until Putin's accession to power by late 1999. The book is excellent, a tour-de-force, and lucidly presented. Garcelon makes an important contribution to the understanding of the role the educated middle class, intellectuals, and experts played during Gorbachev's reforms, and how they were abandoned by Yeltsin. Revolutionary Passage offers a fine-tuned presentation of social structure of the late Soviet Union and the early years of post-Soviet Russia."
"The book is helpful in recalling and explaining what transpired in that turbulent period."
"This book is thus to be recommended as an appealing investigation of how Putinís presumed self-assurance on the political stage is just as much a product of the malfunctioning that preceded it."
"Garcelon presents a detailed examination of an important story: the rise and fall of the Democratic Russia movement (DR). He demonstrates persuasively that the unleashing of perestroika precipitated the creation of an asymmetrical matrix of political opportunities that was advantageous to political entrepreneurs networking within the ranks of the Moscow-based intelligentsia....[O]ne of Garcelonís major accomplishments is that his carefully crafted research, which illuminates the organizational genesis of DR and the social profile of its activists, provides a useful map of politically mobilized, late-Soviet Moscow. The other accomplishment for which Garcelon should be commended is his cogent analysis of DRís heterogeneity."
"Garcelon successfully employs the feudal model as an explanation for the failure of central authority and the later rise of violent oligarchies by the last 1990s in Russia....This work with its feudal paradigm provides both a valuable reference for the period as well as a new methodology for examining Russiaís political and economic future."
List of Acronyms and Russian Terms
Marc Garcelon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middlebury College.
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