"Guns and Rubles" by Mark Harrison

Guns and Rubles The Defense Industry in the Stalinist State Mark Harrison

Yale-Hoover Series on Authoritarian Regimes
Publication date:
22 Jul 2014
Yale University Press
304 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
Sales territories:

For this book a distinguished team of economists and historians—R. W. Davies, Paul R. Gregory, Andrei Markevich, Mikhail Mukhin, Andrei Sokolov, and Mark Harrison—scoured formerly closed Soviet archives to discover how Stalin used rubles to make guns. Focusing on various aspects of the defense industry, a top-secret branch of the Soviet economy, the volume’s contributors uncover new information on the inner workings of Stalin’s dictatorship, military and economic planning, and the industrial organization of the Soviet economy.


Previously unknown details about Stalin’s command system come to light, as do fascinating insights into the relations between Soviet public and private interests. The authors show that defense was at the core of Stalin’s system of rule; single-minded management of the defense sector helped him keep his grip on power.

Mark Harrison is professor of economics, University of Warwick; honorary senior fellow of the Centre for Russian and East European studies, University of Birmingham; and distinguished visiting fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University. He lives in Coventry, UK.

This volume covers a hugely important topic and is bursting with findings. It marries rich empirical detail with sophisticated theoretical treatment."—Yoram Gorlizki, University of Manchester

"This book  presents a clear picture of the role of the defence sector in economic planning in the USSR in the pre-World War II period. It combines economic analysis with archival research."—Michael Ellman, University of Amsterdam

"In the last decade a group of scholars have finally shown us how Stalin's dictatorship worked. Now they demystify one of the paradoxes of the Soviet Union: how could central planning have defeated the Nazis? The book will be a must read for all those interested in dictatorship and the political economy of development."—James Robinson, Harvard University

"Mark Harrison and his colleagues have produced a volume that is as important as it is fascinating. The defense industry has always been the heart of the Soviet economy, and to understand the command economy it is best to begin by studying its development under Stalin. Harrison and his colleagues combine archival work and economic analysis to explain the development and operation of the defense sector and its relationship to the rest of the economy. This book will greatly add to our understanding not only of the Stalinist economy and central planning, but to the study of dictatorships in general."—Barry W. Ickes, The Pennsylvania State University