Cover: Dictatorship and Demand: The Politics of Consumerism in East Germany, from Harvard University PressCover: Dictatorship and Demand in HARDCOVER

Harvard Historical Studies 147

Dictatorship and Demand

The Politics of Consumerism in East Germany

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Product Details


$70.50 • £56.95 • €63.50

ISBN 9780674016989

Publication Date: 03/31/2005


310 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Harvard Historical Studies


Mark Landsman’s book stands at the crest of a coming tide of books in English concerning East Germany, consumption, and questions of how to explain the intertwined fates of politics, economics and everyday culture on the other side of the Berlin Wall. If Landsman’s book is any indication of where this field is heading, scholars of East Germany and modern Germany in general should be in for some very good summer reading in the next couple of years… This book is highly recommended.—Eli Rubin, H-Net

This clearly written monograph, which is a revised version of the author’s dissertation, contains a number of important aperçus. Like a number of other recent studies that underscore the often unintended consequences of official East German policies, Landsman’s book adroitly shows how several of the innovations introduced by authorities to try to satisfy consumer demand—such as a mail-order catalogue and an installment plan—ended up boosting demand to levels that could not be met, creating even greater frustration on the part of East German consumers.—Andrew I. Port , Journal of Cold War Studies

State socialism failed, among other reasons, because it produced an economy of consumer scarcity. Mark Landsman’s well-documented study starkly reveals the contradictions between the priorities of production and consumption in perhaps the most industrious Communist society, the German Democratic Republic. The rich texture of this work, the presentation of now obscure bureaucratic conflicts, the gritty evocation of privation, ensure its quality and interest.—Charles Maier, Harvard University

Dictatorship and Demand provides new and important information about a period in East Germany’s history that had a defining impact on the country’s later years. Landsman is an engaging writer who skillfully brings life to this generally opaque period of German history.—A. James McAdams, University of Notre Dame, author of Judging the Past in Unified Germany

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