This book presents a side of Russian life that is largely unknown to the West--the world of popular culture. By surveying detective and science fiction, popular songs, jokes, box office movie hits, the stage, radio and television, Richard Stites introduces the people and cultural products that are household words to the Soviet people. He demonstrates how popular culture has over the past century had more impact on the lives of Russian people and reveals more about their lives than the works of giants of high culture. Richard Stites, Professor of History at Georgetown University, is the author of several books, including Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution.
"In his richly detailed survey of Russian popular culture since 1900, Richard Stites uses largely ignored sources--detective stories, science fiction, rock-n-roll lyrics, jokes and circus and vaudeville routines--to reveal a side of Russian life largely unknown in the West. And yet, this is not a trivial book...Its great virtue, however, is to illuminate an important and largely unknown dimension of Russia's social history. Serious, but by no means solemn, Stites's book is accessible to anyone interested in learning more about a country and a people that have obsessed and confused us for almost a century." Washington Post Book World "With this book, Richard Stites again demonstrates that he is one of the most creative and original historians currently writing in the field of twentieth-century Russian history...Although the book is relatively short, it is a big book--big in ideas and in the extraordinary richness of the material. Stites writes with authority, verve, and humor. His book is required reading for anyone curious about Russia's cultural life in the twentieth century." Victoria E. Bonnell, American Historical Review "Richard Stites savors the historian's calling as storyteller. Like his earlier works on women's emancipatory movements in Imperial and Soviet Russia and on utopian dreams and practices in the revolutionary years, this account of popular entertainment from the waning years of the tsarist regime to the last years of the Communist order is rich in narrative detail and is engagingly presented...Stites must be praised for achieving this in a book that is both useful and a pleasure to 'consume.'" Mark D. Steinberg, Journal of Modern History