Merchant Moscow
Images of Russia's Vanished Bourgeoisie
Edited by James L. West & Iurii A. Petrov


With the collapse of the Soviet system, the long-neglected history of the early capitalists is being recovered and rewritten. Once regarded as the "losers" in the Russian Revolution, these merchants can now be seen as early pioneers in Russia's transformation to a free market economy. This book is the first joint Russian-American collaborative project on the history of Russian entrepreneurship. Merchant Moscow puts a human face on early Russian capitalism. It presents thematic groupings of historic photographs paired with commentaries by contemporary Russian and American historians. The pictures provide a stunning, wide-ranging visual portrait of Imperial Russia's most influential entrepreneurial elite, the Moscow merchantry, while the accompanying articles interpret the photographs and place them in the larger cultural context of prerevolutionary Russia. Here is a surprising new view of the bourgeoisie during the Silver Age, revealed for the first time in this fascinating volume.

The fourteen contributing historians selected and ordered photographs that best illustrate their specialized knowledge of the period. They have framed their topics in a variety of ways. Some have chosen to pursue traditional topics, such as collective biography, institutional history, or the history of business practices. Others have approached the photographs in more experimental ways, emphasizing the semiotics of dress, discourses of identity, or the history of daily life. Together they offer fresh perspectives on the successes and failures of Russia's first experiment with entrepreneurial capitalism.

First published in 1998.

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