Propaganda State in Crisis Soviet Ideology, Indoctrination, and Terror under Stalin, 1927-1941 David Brandenberger

Yale-Hoover Series on Authoritarian Regimes
Publication date:
31 Jan 2012
Yale University Press
376 pages: 235 x 156 x 19mm
24 b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World excluding the Russian Federation

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The USSR is often regarded as the world's first propaganda state. Particularly under Stalin, politically charged rhetoric and imagery dominated the press, the schools, and the cultural forums from literature and cinema to the fine arts. Yet party propagandists were repeatedly frustrated in their efforts to promote a coherent sense of 'Soviet' identity during the interwar years.

This book investigates this failure to mobilize society along communist lines by probing the secrets of the party's ideological establishment and indoctrinational system. It also analyzes the impact that the 'official line' had at the grassroots by tracking the resonance that this propaganda generated within society at large. An expose of systemic failure within Stalin's ideological establishment, Propaganda State in Crisis ultimately rewrites the history of Soviet indoctrination and mass mobilization between 1927 and 1941.

David Brandenberger is associate professor of history at the University of Richmond, Virginia.

'Brandenberger provides a fascinating analysis.'— Vladimir Tismaneanu (University of Maryland), International Affairs

'This is an excellent study, written with incisive clarity and engaging (often mordant) analysis; it shines a spotlight on a recently neglected area of Stalinist history and thereby invites us to consider state-society relations in the 1930s in a rather different light… Propaganda State brings vividly to life the complex struggles of historians and ideologists to construct a new, mobilisation narrative; misunderstandings, conflicts and reprisals which could have seemed like dull bureaucratic processes are in Brandenberger’s hands made dynamic and compelling… A truly impressive piece of work.' Jonathan Waterlow, Revolutionary Russia