A Ghost Textbook on the History of Medicine: A Case Study of the Legacy of a Stalinist Scholarly Canon
Utilizing the minutes of preparations of a manuscript textbook on the history of medicine (1948-1953), the authors reconstruct how it was decided to depict the history of world and Russian medicine; in so doing sacralizing the Soviet state and wildly overstating its care for the health of Soviet people. The archival documents allowed the authors of the article to show how the aspirations and interests of the medical elite in the sacralization of their own role encouraged historians of medicine to develop not a scientific, but an epic version of the past and to repress other versions through political accusations and condemnation of colleagues. The textbook, which had been created and discussed for a long time in the 1940s, was never published. Nevertheless, the authors' reconstruction of its aborted conception made it possible to reveal its enduring formulations in later Soviet and even present-day textbooks, and enduring capacity to shape a Soviet style historical imagination in doctors.
This is a review of two recent books on Leon Trotsky, one of the most prominent Russian revolutionary leaders and an ardent critic of Stalin. The review analyses the main arguments of both books as well as their contribution to the study of Trotsky's personality and political legacy.
The study concentrates on the range of interpretations of the history of Russian medicine in one of the imperial regions, the Kazakh steppe, and traces their development within different historiographic contexts from the nineteenth century through the Soviet literature to recent Russian, Kazakh and Western scholarly work.
A major contribution to the growing literature on Soviet nationality policy. David Brandenberger frames his study with a large and important question: the generation of a Russian/Soviet national identity during the Stalinist years. He tells the important story of the production of a more nationalist world view and how it was received, moving from elites to the masses. Focusing on history and historians, Brandenberger links historiography with nation-making and state building. This work should be widely read, not least because it clearly and eloquently illuminates the painful process of forging national identity. (Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago) Brandenberger alters our understanding of how Soviet culture was created and how it held Soviet society together. Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the foundation of documents on which it rests. Clearly the result of years of gathering, these documents show us Stalinism as received, as a set of social practices and discourses in constant revision and misuse. National Bolshevism illuminates broader debates about the functioning of Soviet society, the origins of national consciousness, and the formation of the subject with the modern state, and will be a widely read contribution to the field. (James von Geldern, Macalester College)