Katherine LebowUnfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism and Polish Society, 1949-1956

Cornell University Press, 2013

by Amanda Swain on March 15, 2015

Katherine Lebow

View on Amazon

In the late 1940s, tens of thousands of people – mostly young male peasants – streamed to southeastern Poland to help build Nowa Huta, the largest and most ambitious of Stalinist “socialist cities” in the new People’s Democracies. The town, built to house workers at the Lenin Steelworks (also under construction), was designed to implement economic and social change, but many of the plans went unfulfilled or even awry. In Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism and Polish Society, 1949-1956 (Cornell University Press, 2014), Katherine Lebow provides a fascinating analysis at the expectations and experiences of the Communist Party planners, the nationally-minded architects, the rural youth, women and Roma who created Nowa Huta. She places the construction of Nowa Huta more broadly in Polish history, linking it to visions of modernization in the interwar period, as well as situating it in the context of post-war Europe. Lebow argues that, in the end, “utopian visions of a new town for the masses were a luxury that Polish communism could not afford.” Unfinished Utopia received the 2014 Barbara Jelavich Book Prize from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES).

{ 0 comments }

Hasia DinerRoads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way

March 10, 2015

The period from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries witnessed a mass migration which carried millions of Jews from central and eastern Europe, north Africa, and the Ottoman Empire to new lands. Hasia Diner’s new book, Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way […]

Read the full article →

Paulina BrenThe Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring

February 20, 2015

Major Zeman’s life is filled with action packed adventures. A young man finds his calling turning a collective farm into a shining example of agricultural efficiency.  Anna embraces her role as a single mother and as the woman behind the deli counter.  Two engineers show the world the high-quality of products from communist Czechoslovakia.  In […]

Read the full article →

Robert J. DoniaRadovan Karadžič: Architect of the Bosnian Genocide

February 6, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] As a graduate student at Ohio State in the early 1990s, I remember watching the collapse of Yugoslavia on the news almost every night and reading about it in the newspaper the next day.  The first genocidal conflict covered in real time, dozens of reporters covered the war from […]

Read the full article →

James Mace WardPriest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia

December 25, 2014

In his biography of Jozef Tiso, Catholic priest and president of independent Slovakia (1939-1944), James Ward provides a deeper understanding of a man who has been both honored and vilified since his execution as a Nazi collaborator in 1947. Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Cornell University Press, 2013) is […]

Read the full article →

Mary NeubergerBalkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria

November 4, 2014

By the late 1960s, Bulgaria was the world’s number one exporter of tobacco, perhaps the pinnacle of the place of tobacco in the economic, social and political development of modern Bulgaria.  In Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria (Cornell University Press, 2012), Mary C. Neuberger deftly moves between tobacco production and practices […]

Read the full article →

Mark CornerThe European Union: An Introduction

October 16, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in European Studies] Some say it should be a loose collection of sovereign nation states; others say it should aspire to be a kind of super-nation state itself. Or is it, in truth, a messy but workable mixture of a number of extremes, ideals and concepts? These are the type of […]

Read the full article →

Willard SunderlandThe Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution

September 4, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] The Russian Empire once extended from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan and contained a myriad of different ethnicities and nationalities. Dr. Willard Sunderland‘s The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014) is an engaging new take on the […]

Read the full article →

Ivo MijnssenThe Quest for an Ideal Youth in Putin’s Russia I: Back To Our Future! History, Modernity, and Patriotism According to Nashi, 2005-2013

August 12, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] The Soviet Union once boasted of its unparalleled political participation among youth. Belonging to outwardly political organizations, these Octobrists, Pioneers, and Komsomoltsy often represented the spirit of Soviet youth. They were engaged, well-informed, and enthusiastic about their country. In his book, Back To Our Future! History, Modernity, and […]

Read the full article →

Andrew DemshukThe Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970

July 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] At the close of the Second World War, the Allies expelled several million Germans from the eastern portion of the former Reich. Thanks to the work of many historians, we know quite a bit about Allied planning for the expulsion, when and how it took place, and the multitude of […]

Read the full article →