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A Social History of Soviet Trade:
Trade Policy, Retail Practices, and Consumption, 1917-1953
Julie Hessler

Hardcover | 2004 | $75.00 | £62.95 | ISBN: 9780691114927
384 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 13 halftones. 10 tables.
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In this sweeping study, Julie Hessler traces the invention and evolution of socialist trade, the progressive constriction of private trade, and the development of consumer habits from the 1917 revolution to Stalin's death in 1953. The book places trade and consumption in the context of debilitating economic crises. Although Soviet leaders, and above all, Stalin, identified socialism with the modernization of retailing and the elimination of most private transactions, these goals conflicted with the economic dynamics that produced shortages and with the government's bureaucratic, repressive, and socially discriminatory political culture.

A Social History of Soviet Trade explores the relationship of trade--official and unofficial--to the cyclical pattern of crisis and normalization that resulted from these tensions. It also provides a singularly detailed look at private shops during the years of the New Economic Policy, and at the remnants of private trade, mostly concentrated at the outdoor bazaars, in subsequent years. Drawing on newly opened archives in Moscow and several provinces, this richly documented work offers a new perspective on the social, economic, and political history of the formative decades of the USSR.


"Unprecedented in its geographic and chronological scope. Hessler's book constitutes a genuine social history of Soviet trade."--Thomas C. Owen, Business History Review

"A well-researched study. . . . . It deserves a wide and appreciative audience."--David L. Hoffmann, American Historical Review

"A fine book. . . .. An original and substantial contribution that should be a standard work of reference for some time to come."--Mark Harrison, Slavic Review

"ulie Hessler's book offers the most comprehensive account of the consumer economy and should serve as the standard reference work on the subject."--Marjorie L. Hilton, Journal of Social History


"This is a very impressive book; an opus in fact. It is nothing short of a full and comprehensive history of retail economy ("trade" in Soviet terms) and consumption from the Russian Revolution to the death of Stalin in 1953. Encyclopedic in its scope and nuanced in its careful and innovative interpretations, this book will be the standard reference for decades to come. Like the best history, it waves no flags and champions no causes."--J. Arch Getty, University of California, Los Angeles, author of The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939

"This pathbreaking book represents a major contribution to a field lacking such a work in any language. Hessler sets forth a massive amount of new material, sifted judiciously and clearly presented. She has done a prodigious amount of research, writes thoughtfully, and explores a broad range of issues in imaginative and analytically sophisticated ways. Her important study will be of great interest to historians in many fields, as well as those of the Soviet period."--William Rosenberg, University of Michigan, coauthor of Strikes and Revolution in Russia, 1917

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File created: 7/11/2017

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