Posts Tagged 'Stalin'

Stalin and Shostakovich, by Solomon Volkov

This account of the perilous, unremitting battles between Stalin and Shostakovich charts an engrossing history which extends well beyond the book’s protagonists. Lacking incisive political perspective, Volkov nonetheless unearths a wealth of detail on the whole structure of state-regulated cultural production during the Stalin era. With disaster an ever-present threat, figures such as Shostakovich, Eisenstein and Pasternak engaged in a compex set of cat-and-mouse relations: often barely surviving through a combination of guile and Stalin’s uncertain desire for international recognition. Incorporating fascinating analysis of Shostakovich’s key works, Volkov’s readable fusion of the musicological and the social is a clear success. AB

Little, Brown and Company; 2004; 384 pages

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The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, by Erich Fromm

Regarded as one of Fromm’s masterworks, this book mixes psychology, palaeontology and anthropology in its endeavour to address a simple question: why are humans violent? The underlying answer for Fromm is rooted in this social animal’s general condition of unfreedom since the Neolithic revolution some 10,000 years ago. In lengthy meanderings he takes in animal behavioural science, sketches the structure of Neolithic society and produces psychological biographies of Hitler, Stalin and Himmler. But for large parts of the book his central argument takes a back seat. While much of the material is fascinating its fragmentary character surrenders its polemical force. SS

Pimlico; 1997; 688 pages

Pimlico

Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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