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Red Arctic : Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932-1939 - John McCannon

Red Arctic

Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932-1939

Hardcover

Published: 1st December 1997
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A work of refreshing originality and vivid appeal, Red Arctic tells the story of Stalinist Russia's massive campaign to explore and develop its Northern territories during the 1930s. Author John McCannon recounts the dramatic stories of the polar expeditions--conducted by foot, ship, and plane--that were the pride of Stalinist Russia, in order to expose the reality behind them: chaotic blunders, bureaucratic competition, and the eventual rise of the Gulag as the dominant force in the North. Red Arctic also traces the development of the polar-based popular culture of the decade, making use of memoirs, films, radio broadcasts, children's books, and cultural ephemera ranging from placards to postage stamps to show how Russia's "Arctic Myth" became an integral part of the overall socialist-realist aesthetic that animated Stalinist culture throughout the 1930s.

"A probing and thoroughly engrossing account. Professor McCannon makes judicious use of once secret Russian archives to produce a fascinating study of one of the most neglected aspects of Soviet history in the pre-World War II Stalin era."--Bruce Lincoln, Distinguished Research Professor, Northern Illinois University "Red Arctic is a richly constructed and conceived work of history, populated by heroic northern explorers, dashing aviators, grim Stalin bureaucrats, polar bears, shamans, and class enemies. In this engagingly written narrative based on an impressive array of archival and published sources, John McCannon examines the Arctic myth in reality and legend, documenting the history of arctic exploration under Stalin as well as delving into the still relatively uncharted arena of Stalinist popular culture. Red Arctic is an original piece of work, representative of a new generation of historical scholarship on the Soviet Union."--Lynne Viola, Professor of History, University of Toronto "John McCannon's book is about both the actual and the symbolic Arctic, a place where heroes were made while real men and women slaved away in labor camps. Combining social and cultural history in a vivid narrative, the author explores how explorers became icons in a Stalinist dream factory. The central characters are as tall as the legendary Otto Shmidt but are dwarfed by Stalin and his minions who in doctored photographs towered over the heroes they made. This book is about Soviet celebrity and the ways in which the state and society conspired to create a post-revolutionary cultural hegemony."--Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago "...a scholarly bureaucratic history of Soviet efforts to exploit the Arctic."--The New York Times Book Review "McCannon's book is the first in any language to chronicle and analyze the heroic era of exploration and development in the Soviet Arctic. Drawing heavily on newly opened Soviet archives and a great variety of other sources, it combines solid scholarship, clear writing, and a deep understanding of the Russian and Soviet cultures to illuminate a subject, a region, and a period well known through rough sketches but for which there have been no detailed pictures."--Choice "...no one has examined [the Cheliuskin and polar flights] as extensively as McCannon. Anyone interested in Soviet history will find his story engaging."--Slavic Review "...Red Arctic is a very rich and enjoyable study which will appeal to historians, scholars of Soviet popular culture and anyone interested in the history of polar exploration."--Slavic and East European Journal

A Note on Transliterationp. ix
Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
Polar Exploration and Soviet Political Economyp. 5
The Arctic as Popular Culturep. 8
Defining the Arcticp. 9
Footholds in the North: The Russians in the Arctic, 1500-1932p. 12
First Steps: Opening the North, 1500-1800p. 13
The Arctic in the Late Imperial Period, 1800-1917p. 16
Building the North: The Soviet Arctic, 1917-1932p. 19
The Commissariat of Ice: The Rise of Glavsevmorput, 1932-1936p. 33
The Growing Giant: GUSMP's Central Apparatus, 1933-1935p. 36
Science, Economic Development, and the Statep. 40
On the Periphery: Glavsevmorput in the Fieldp. 45
Days of Glory: The Major Expeditions, 1932-1939p. 59
The Sibiriakov Voyage (1932)p. 60
The Cheliuskin Epic (1933-1934)p. 61
Chkalov, Gromov, and Levanevsky: The Arctic Flights (1936-1937)p. 68
"The Pole Is Ours!": SP-1 and the North Pole Landing (1937-1938)p. 73
The Passing of an Erap. 78
From Victory To Victory: The Myth of the Arctic in Soviet Culturep. 81
Outlooks toward Nature: The Arctic as Adversaryp. 82
Cosmographies: Perceptions of the USSR and the Worldp. 89
A Nation of Heroes: The Individual and the Statep. 98
Living the Great Dreamp. 108
Between Rhetoric and Reality: Manufacturing the Arctic Mythp. 110
Engineering Human Souls: The Arctic Myth as State Policyp. 111
Crafting the Myth: The Media and the Arcticp. 117
Consuming the Myth: The Public Respondsp. 134
Propaganda: Effects and Limitationsp. 143
Polestar Descending: Glavsevmorput In Decline, 1936-1939p. 145
Glavsevmorput in Crisisp. 146
Glavsevmorput and the Great Purgesp. 149
A New Primacy in the North: Dalstroi and the Demotion of GUSMPp. 168
Conclusion
Epiloguep. 174
Parting Thoughtsp. 176
Notesp. 182
Select Bibliographyp. 211
Indexp. 226
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195114362
ISBN-10: 0195114361
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 246
Published: 1st December 1997
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.3  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.52