The years of late Stalinism are one of the murkiest periods in Soviet history, best known to us through the voices of Ehrenburg, Khrushchev and Solzhenitsyn. This is a sweeping history of Russia from the end of the war to the Thaw by one of Russia's respected younger historians. Drawing on the resources of newly opened archives as well as the recent outpouring of published diaries and memoirs, Elena Zubkova presents a richly detailed portrayal of the basic conditions of people's lives in Soviet Russia from 1945 to 1957. She brings out the dynamics of postwar popular expectations and the cultural stirrings set in motion by the wartime experience versus the regime's determination to reassert command over territories and populations and the mechanisms of repression. Her interpretation of the period establishes the context for the liberalizing and reformist impulses that surfaced in the post-Stalin succession struggle, characterizing what would be the formative period for a future generation of leaders: Gorbachev, Yeltsin and their contemporaries.
Part 1 Survival Strategy: The Social-Psychological Impact of the War; Victory and the Victors; "What Will Life be Like After the War?" - Expectation vs. Reality; Hungry Years - Popular Methods During the Famine of 1946-47; Currency Reform - the View from Above and Below. Part 2 Illusions of Liberalization: The Peasantry and Collective Agriculture - Anti-Kolkhoz Attitudes in the Countryside; Religion and Politics - the Revival of Religious Feeling; Popular Political Attitudes, 1945-48; "Something Has to be Done" - Attitudes Among the Intelligentsia and Independent Thinkers. Part 3 Repressions: "Situation Unchanged" - the Crisis of Post-Victory Expectations; The Appearance of an Anti-Stalinist Youth Movement; Mechanisms of Struggle Against Dissent; A Wave of Repression, 1949-53; "Who is Guilty?" "What is Wrong?" - the Evolution of Mass Consciousness. Part 4 The Thaw: "Without Stalin" - the Change of Atmosphere; Renouncing the Gulag; The Turn to the Individual; The Decisions About the Cult of Personality and Their Influence on the Society; Public Opinion and the "Hungarian Syndrome" Instead of a Conclusion - Society, the Regime and Reforms.