Cover: Moscow 1956: The Silenced Spring, from Harvard University PressCover: Moscow 1956 in HARDCOVER

Moscow 1956

The Silenced Spring

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674972001

Publication Date: 04/17/2017


448 pages

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

28 halftones, 1 map


Nineteen fifty-six was an important year in Russian history, not because a war or a revolution began that year but because that is when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech to a Communist Party congress in which he unmasked the monstrous crimes and mistakes of his predecessor, Joseph Stalin. The content of the ‘secret speech,’ the motivations behind it, and in broad terms the waves it created are all familiar. But until this book, the intricate and fraught ways that the confession played out in the Soviet Union were not… The thoroughness with which [Smith] introduces her characters lends the account a riveting immediacy.—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

[An] eloquent account… Smith draws persuasive comparisons between the failed reforms of the Khrushchev years and the post-2000 Russian government, which has also prioritized its own survival over citizens’ democratic rights.—Miriam Dobson, London Review of Books

[A] provocative political history… Smith successfully recreates the triumph and tragedy of a society recovering from the ravages of despotism but still ensconced in the throes of an authoritarian political system. The meticulously researched and highly readable book takes us on a stimulating encounter with the members of the elites and intelligentsia in Soviet Russia who were both hopeful and fearful about the Post-Stalinist future.—Kumuthan Maderya, PopMatters

In this fluent and engaging account, Smith describes the unfolding events of 1956—the early bewilderment, as details of [Khrushchev’s] speech filtered out to Party members and society at large, press responses as they began to explore ‘acceptable’ criticism, and the exhilaration of the younger generation at the new atmosphere.—Charlotte Hobson, The Spectator

A beautifully written work by a gifted historian. Many passages, where Smith creates what might be described as a daybook of seemingly disparate events, are nothing less than masterful.—Stephen V. Bittner, author of The Many Lives of Khrushchev’s Thaw

1956 was a watershed year in Russian political history, as important as 1917. Kathleen Smith’s account of this year is the most empathetic and complete I know. For anyone who wonders why Russia never did or will turn into North Korea, read this book for a clear answer.—Vladislav Zubok, author of Zhivago’s Children

This fascinating book recounts how Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin let loose a torrent of change in the Soviet Union. Filled with inspiring, poignant stories of writers, scientists, students, and others who dared to speak out, Smith’s account also illuminates the kind of resistance that thwarted liberalization then and continues to do so in Russia today.—William Taubman, author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

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