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am 4. Mai 2000
Excellent, critical analysis of Magnitogorsk, an often-referred-to but usually overlooked centre of a major twentieth-century civilisation. Based on a fantastic amount of research, informed by theory, and carefully analyzed, the book shows that Stalinism was not just an evil, paranoid dictatorship, but a world that has largely escaped our understanding. Kotkin does a good job in "correcting" our understanding and providing with something much more careful, openminded and comprehensive than every other soviet historian has done so far.
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am 3. November 1999
Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as A Civilization is a fascinating history of the Soviet (now Russian) city of Magnitogorsk. Despite the comments of other reviewers (and the sub-title), the book mostly concerns itself with the building and earliest history of the city and not at all with the glorification of Stalin or Stalinism. The book simply details what life was like in what was supposed to be the protypical Soviet city under Stalin. The depth of research Kotkin has attained is just amazing and his writing is simply superb.
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am 19. Oktober 1999
Kotkin has tried to do too much with this book. What could have been an excellent history of the making of Magnitogorsk becomes an overdrawn, theoretically flawed attempt to make insights of questionable value. The heavy reliance on Foucault leads nowhere (as all work based on Foucault's writings does), and results in some ridiculous and useless speculations which I don't even want to entertain. The main premise is that in spite of the fact that Stalinism resulted in the death of millions, it was still progressive and forward-looking throughout. Go figure....
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