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History Eastern

Hunger and War

Food Provisioning in the Soviet Union during World War II

edited by Wendy Z. Goldman & Donald A. Filtzer

contributions by Brandon M. Schechter, Rebecca Manley & Alexis Peri

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2015
Eastern, Disasters & Disaster Relief, World War II
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2015
    List Price

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Drawing on recently released Soviet archival materials, Hunger and War investigates state food supply policy and its impact on Soviet society during World War II. It explores the role of the state in provisioning the urban population, particularly workers, with food; feeding the Red army; the medicalization of hunger; hunger in blockaded Leningrad; and civilian mortality from hunger and malnutrition in other home front industrial regions. New research reported here challenges and complicates many of the narratives and counter-narratives about the war. The authors engage such difficult subjects as starvation mortality, bitterness over privation and inequalities in provisioning, and conflicts among state organizations. At the same time, they recognize the considerable role played by the Soviet state in organizing supplies of food to adequately support the military effort and defense production and in developing policies that promoted social stability amid upheaval. The book makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the Soviet population's experience of World War II as well as to studies of war and famine.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Wendy Z. Goldman is Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin's Russia; Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin: The Social Dynamics of Repression; Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia; and Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936.

Donald Filtzer is Professor of Russian History at the University of East London, United Kingdom. He is author of The Hazards of Urban Life in Late Stalinist Russia: Health, Hygiene, and Living Standards, 1943-1953.

Editorial Reviews

The editors and Indiana University Press are to be very warmly congratulated for producing such a fine and necessary work. The editors have done an excellent job in putting together a very good team of contributors—men and women who not only know their individual specialist subject areas thoroughly, but also write in an engaging and thoughtful manner

Europe - Asia Studies

'Hunger and War' analyses several aspects of food shortages, starvation, and food provisioning in the Soviet Union. . . . [This is] . . . a coherent and informative volume that adds substantially to existing knowledge about Soviet food supply, military and civilian rationing, and starvation during the 'Great Patriotic War'.Dec. 2016

Intnl Review of Social History

The sustained treatment and tight focus make Hunger and War a compelling addition to the historiography of the Soviet Union at war.

International Review of Social History

Hunger and War broadens our horizons on a crucial dimension of the Soviet-German War. Indiana University Press has done an admirable job in producing the book, which will prove valuable to researchers and as assigned reading for students.



The book is incredibly well documented and researched, and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Soviet Union's wartime experience.

Social History of Medicine

The research is extensive and innovative, and the writing is deep yet engaging, resulting in a volume whose contribution to the historiography of World War II and to food studies in general will stand the test of time.

The Russian Review

Hunger and War makes an extremely valuable contribution to scholarly understandings of the Great Patriotic War, in particular the relationship between state policies, popular experiences, and the extraordinary social costs of the war. It reveals for the first time, in remarkable detail, the full extent of hunger and food shortage across Soviet space.

Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

This excellent book adds much to our knowledge of the Soviet Union's home front.

American Historical Review

Hunger and War . . . constitutes an important contribution to the current scholarship on the period of the Great Patriotic War. Focusing on the theme of food provisioning and consumption, the volume effectively bridges the traditional divide between scholarship on the battlefront and the home front. By bringing to light an impressive corpus of previously ignored archival sources, this new collection provides an important supplement to the existing literature on the topic.