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An American engineer in Stalin's Russia [electronic resource] : the memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934 /
edited with an introduction by Michael Gelb.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
description
ix, 363 p., [6] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520071344 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1991.
isbn
0520071344 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
7829892
 
"The films of Emma Tsesarskaia": p. 355.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 343-354) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-05:
Witkin's memoirs of his stay in Stalinist Russia, from 1932 to 1934, are very interesting, pleasant to read, and instructive. Witkin, a well-known civil engineer from California, disappointed by the evils and shortcomings of capitalism and by the Great Depression, and anxious to be close to his idol, Russian film star Emma Tsesarskaia, went to the Soviet Union with the ambition of helping to build a better society. After two years, disillusioned by Stalin's corrupt bureaucracy, the suppression of human rights and human dignity, and depressed by a breakdown of his romance, he returned home to the US. The book consists of a long and informative introduction by editor Gelb, 35 well-written chapters followed by several pages of notes, a comprehensive bibliography, a list of films by Tsesarskaia, and a final index. There are a few illustrations of acceptable quality. Faculty and graduate students in history and the history of engineering, as well as general readers, will find this book interesting. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-T. Z. Kattamis, University of Connecticut
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, August 1991
Choice, May 1992
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
In 1932 Zara Witkin, a prominent American engineer, set off for the Soviet Union with two goals: to help build a society more just and rational than the bankrupt capitalist system at home, and to seek out the beautiful film star Emma Tsesarskaia. His memoirs offer a detailed view of Stalin's bureaucracy--entrenched planners who snubbed new methods; construction bosses whose cover-ups led to terrible disasters; engineers who plagiarized Witkin's work; workers whose pride was defeated. Punctuating this document is the tale of Witkin's passion for Tsesarskaia and the record of his friendships with journalist Eugene Lyons, planner Ernst May, and others. Witkin felt beaten in the end by the lethargy and corruption choking the greatest social experiment in history, and by a pervasive evil--the suppression of human rights and dignity by a relentless dictatorship. Finally breaking his spirit was the dissolution of his romance with Emma, his "Dark Goddess." In his lively introduction, Michael Gelb provides the historical context of Witkin's experience, details of his personal life, and insights offered by Emma Tsesarskaia in an interview in 1989.
Main Description
Witkin's memoirs offer a detailed view of the inner workings of Stalin's bureaucracy- of entrenched planners who refused to try new methods; of construction bosses whose coverups led to terrible disasters; of rival engineers who plagiarized Witkin's work; of workers too defeated to take pride in their own labor.
Unpaid Annotation
In 1932 Zara Witkin, a prominent American engineer, set off for the Soviet Union with two goals: to help build a society more just and rational than the bankrupt capitalist system at home, and to seek out the beautiful film star Emma Tsesarskaia.His memoirs offer a detailed view of Stalin's bureaucracy--entrenched planners who snubbed new methods; construction bosses whose cover-ups led to terrible disasters; engineers who plagiarized Witkin's work; workers whose pride was defeated. Punctuating this document is the tale of Witkin's passion for Tsesarskaia and the record of his friendships with journalist Eugene Lyons, planner Ernst May, and others.Witkin felt beaten in the end by the lethargy and corruption choking the greatest social experiment in history, and by a pervasive evil--the suppression of human rights and dignity by a relentless dictatorship. Finally breaking his spirit was the dissolution of his romance with Emma, his "Dark Goddess."In his lively introduction, Michael Gelb provides the historical context of Witkin's experience, details of his personal life, and insights offered by Emma Tsesarskaia in an interview in 1989.

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