All entries for Saturday 04 April 2020
April 04, 2020
Tonight I hoped to be in Cambridge for the annual conference dinner of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies. My plan was to pick up a prize -- the Alexander Nove Award for Distinguished Scholarship, which was to be presented to my three co-authors and me. Well, something that began quietly last December in Wuhan, China, and went on to creep around the world has got in the way. Like miillions, maybe billions of others I'm staying home. I'm not complaining: this is the least of anyone's problems. I'll just quietly raise a glass to my co-authors.
To explain the award, here's the prize committee's citation:
BASEES is delighted to announce that the Alexander Nove Award for Distinguished Scholarship goes to the seven-volume economic history of Russia The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia, which has come to the end with the publication of the seventh and final volume: The Soviet Economy and the Approach of War, 1937-1939 (Palgrave, 2018). The pivotal role in the series has been played by R. W. (Bob) Davies (b. 1925), a mighty figure in Soviet (Russian) and East European Studies, and a founding member of this association, serving on the precursor NASEES committee from 1963-1977. The final volume of the series, is co-authored by Mark Harrison, Oleg Khlevniuk, & Stephen G Wheatcroft and Stephen Wheatcroft also co-authored volume 5.
The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia was a continuation of E. H. Carr’s project to write a history of the Bolshevik revolution. Between 1950 and 1969 Carr published 14 volumes of his History of Soviet Russia, covering the period from 1917 to 1929. To help with the final set of volumes, entitled Foundations of a Planned Economy, he recruited a co-author, the young economist R. W. Davies of the University of Birmingham. When he got to 1929, Carr stepped back from his project citing the increasing secrecy of the Soviet regime in the 1930s and the lack of primary documentation as his reason. Where Carr stopped, Davies took up the work. The seven volumes of his own series, entitled The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia, cover the period from 1929 to 1939. In what must be a record, the project was funded continuously by the Economic and Social Research Council from 1973 to 2010.
While the project continued, the world changed. The Soviet Union opened up, and then collapsed. Its archives became available to the world, solving the obstacle that had defeated Carr. Davies became a leading figure among many who made the Soviet state the best documented authoritarian regime of modern times. The topics embraced by the seven volumes include forced industrialisation and collectivisation, famine, the emergence of the command system and how it worked, the limited scope for reforms, mass killings and forced labour, the path of consumption and living standards, the militarisation of the economy and war preparations, and the character of Soviet economic growth and development.
In case you're not bored yet, here are some links to further detail:
- For students, an open-access preprint of Volume 7's concluding chapter, The Soviet economy: the late 1930s in historical perspective.
- For non-specialists, a summary in the Spring 2019 issue of the CAGE Advantage magazine (starting on page 7) under the title Mobilisation, terror, and rearmament: The Soviet economy on the eve of World War II.
- For buyers, the Palgrave Macmillan page for Volume 7.
Finally who was Alexander Nove -- or Alec, as everyone called him and as he called himself?