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History Russia & The Former Soviet Union

The Best Sons of the Fatherland

Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization

by (author) Lynne Viola

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 1994
Russia & the Former Soviet Union
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 1994
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In this ground-breaking study Lynne Viola--the first Western scholar to gain access to the Soviet state archives on collectivization--brilliantly examines a lost chapter in the history of the Stalin revolution. Looking in detail at the backgrounds, motivations, and mentalities of the 25,000ers, Viola embarks on the first Western investigation of the everyday activities of Stalin's rank-and-file shock troops, the "leading cadres" of socialist construction. In the process, Viola sheds new light on how the state mobilized working-class support for collectivization and reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the 25,000ers went into the countryside as willing recruits. This unique social history uses an "on the scene" line of vision to offer a new understanding of the workings, times, and cadres of Stalin's revolution.

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

"Viola has gathered much new information from Soviet archives, even more from a wide variety of contemporary Soviet periodicals, and from Soviet secondary sources."--The Historian

"A most impressive piece of work....A major contribution in terms of significance for the field and thoroughness of research."--Sheila Fitzpatrick, University of Texas, Austin

"This excellent monograph tells the story so well because the author...was able to gain access to Soviet governmental archives containing a wealth of first-hand material."--Foreign Affairs

"A valuable contribution to the understanding of a subject that is more often dealt with in polemical terms than in scholarly detachment."--Lyman H. Legters, University of Washington

"A superb, remarkably mature first effort....Using hitherto unavailable archival sources, she develops a fascinating, complex, and variegated picture of collectivization....A bravura performance."--Annals of the American Academy

"Viola's work represents a welcomed addition to the sparse literature."--The Journal of Modern History

"Lynne Viola's study of the 25,000ers brings a new dimension to the story of peasant collectivization in Stalin's Russia. Working in Soviet archives, she has uncovered the people who represented the regime at the moment of its most intense intervention in the countryside. Their mentalities and enthusiasms, successes and failures are carefully explored in this first attempt to see the collectivization from the perspective of the activist."--Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan

"What Viola has given us is a significantly richer picture of collectivization and a valuable indication of what can be accomplished through imagination and careful research of the materials of the Stalin era."--Russian Review

Other titles by Lynne Viola