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History Russia & The Former Soviet Union

Peasant Rebels Under Stalin

Collectivization and the Culture of Peasant Resistance

by (author) Lynne Viola

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1998
Russia & the Former Soviet Union
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 1998
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The first book to document the peasant rebellion against Soviet collectivization, Peasant Rebels Under Stalin retrieves a crucial lost chapter from the history of Stalinist Russia. The peasant revolt against collectivization, as reconstructed by author Lynne Viola, was the most violent and sustained resistance to the Soviet state after the Russian Civil War. Conservative estimates suggest that over the course of the 1020s and early 1930s, more than 1,100 people were assassinated, more than 13,000 villages rioted, and over 2.5 million people participated in this active struggle of resistance.

This book is about the men and women who tried to preserve their families, communities, and beliefs from the depredations of Stalinism. Their acts were often heroic, but these heroes were homespun, ordinary people who were driven to acts of desperation by cruel and brutal state policies.

This is a study of peasant community, culture, and politics through the prism of resistance. Based on newly declassified Soviet archives, including previously inaccessible OGPU (secret police) reports, Viola's work documents the manifestation in Stalin's Russia of universal strategies of peasant resistance in what amounted to a virtual civil war between state and peasantry. This book is must reading for scholars of Soviet history, Stalinism, popular resistance, and Russian peasant culture.

About the author

Lynne Viola is Professor of History at the University of Toronto. She is the author of The Best Sons of the Fatherland and Peasant Rebels Under Stalin and coeditor of The War against the Peasantry.

Lynne Viola's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"A thought-provoking book about peasant resistance to Stalin's reconstruction of the countryside....Viola's book opens a fascinating window on the peasant world...[It] will be a starting point for all serious thought on the subject."--The Journal of Economic History

"Viola documents each of her major themes in a meticulous and compelling way, thereby making Peasant Rebels under Stalin an impressive scholarly achievement. Her work breaks new ground...."--Canadian Slavonic Papers

"This is revisionist scholarship at its very best. Viola reveals an entirely new dimension to important historical phenomena such as collectivization and state-society relations under Stalin. Her work offers much to those interested in Russian-Soviet history, peasant studies, revolution, gender differences in political behavior, and the origins of Stalinist totalitarianism."--American Historical Review

"This a well-written, well-researched, and path-breaking study. It is a major contribution to the literature and all subsequent accounts of The Soviet Union in the 1930's (and beyond)."--Lesley A. Rimmel, Stanford University

"Viola merits praise for drawing new attention to the question and for recovering lost voices who nearly drowned in the cataclysms of recent times."--Agricultural History

"An important contribution to the social history of collectivization, the Soviet peasantry, and peasant resistance in general."--Choice

"Peasant Rebels Under Stalin will undoubtedly become the standard work for understanding the stages and wide variety of responses to the Soviet party-state's violent assault on the countryside and rural culture generally."--Slavic Review

"This is an impressively researched and well written study that will surely become a standard work on Soviet collectivization and peasant revolt. It is a book steeped in the comparative literature of peasant studies as well as in Soviet archival materials, and social historians outside the Russian field should find it no less engrossing and valuable than their colleagues in Russian/Soviet history."--Journal of Social History

"Viola shows clearly in this fine monograph that the victims did not passively accept their fate. She details with great precision the multiple strategies that rural people used to defend themselves and their property against the agents of forced collectivization."--The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Other titles by Lynne Viola