Cover: The Ghost of the Executed Engineer in PAPERBACK

Russian Research Center Studies 87

The Ghost of the Executed Engineer

Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

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Product Details


$32.50 • £26.95 • €29.50

ISBN 9780674354371

Publication Date: 02/01/1996


154 pages

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

18 halftones, 2maps

Russian Research Center Studies


In this gem of a book, Loren R. Graham, our foremost authority on Soviet science and technology, draws the reader into the life story of Peter Palchinsky, a remarkable Soviet engineer who was executed in 1929 for treason… Like all memorable books, [this one] leaves the reader wrestling with large questions. The fate of Palchinsky was specific to Stalinist Russia, but the story Mr. Graham tells prompts us to reflect on the tenuous position of the state-supported social critic in all places, at all times.—Susan Gross Solomon, New York Times Book Review

Loren Graham has written a wonderful book about the relationship between technology and society. He has woven together an account of the life and work of a Russian engineer, Peter Palchinsky, and an analysis of the failures of Soviet engineering projects. The result is an elegant and concise essay on the dangers of engineering which ignores human values… This superb book distills in a vivid and moving way the results of Graham’s many years of research on Soviet science and technology.—David Holloway, Science

Loren Graham clarifies important questions concerning the interface between politics and technology, the significance of which extend beyond the Soviet experience. Among the most striking of these is the way his examples illustrate how arbitrary political power can be deployed both to impose irrational policies, which flew in the face of scientific laws, technical parameters and human capabilities, and to misrepresent their consequences for public consumption… This book will provide an invaluable insight into the long-term impact of Stalinism on Soviet technical culture.—Peter Kneen, Times Higher Education Supplement

[A] provocative and engaging volume.—S. Frederick Starr, New Republic

This remarkable book by Loren R. Graham deals with one of the many independent minds crushed by the Soviet government.—Hiroaki Kuromiya, American Historical Review

A terrific read, and a needed reminder of what happens when technology is loosed from social responsibility.—Chet Raymo, Boston Globe

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