Engineers of the Soul: In the Footsteps of Stalin's Writers

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9780099461647: Engineers of the Soul: In the Footsteps of Stalin's Writers

A brilliant fusion of travel writing and Soviet history which reads like Bruce Chatwin. Engineers of the Soul is the riveting story of two journeys -- one literal, one imaginary -- through contemporary Russia and through Soviet-era literature.

Travelling through present and past, Frank Westerman draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as 'engineers of the soul', were encouraged to sing the praises of canal and dam construction under titles such as Energy, The Hydraulic Power Station and Onward, Time! But their enthusiasm -- spontaneous and idealistic at first -- soon becomes an obligatory song of praise. And as these colossal waterworks lead to slavery and destruction, Soviet writers labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society.

Combining investigative journalism with literary history, Westerman examines both the landscape of 'Oriental despotism' and the books -- and lives -- of writers caught in the wheels of the system. 'It is easy to die a hero's death,' wrote Konstantin Paustovsky, 'but it is difficult to live a hero's life.' Engineers of the Soul sweeps the reader along to the dramatic dénouement: the final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire.

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About the Author:

FRANK WESTERMAN was born in 1964 and lived and worked in Moscow from 1997 to 2002 as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Westerman is the author of five books. His work has been published in more than ten languages and has won many prizes.

Review:

"Endlessly fascinating, breathtaking. Engineers of the Soul is surprising and original, not to mention meticulously researched and well-written."
de Volkskrant

"A beautifully written, well-documented, extraordinarily fascinating book, full of wonderful anecdotes."
Vrij Nederland

"[A] fascinating literary travelogue."
— Claire Allfree, Metro

"A compelling combination of literary criticism and travelogue."
Scotland on Sunday

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Engineers of the Soul draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as engineers of the soul , were encouraged to sing the praises of construction. But the initial enthusiasm of Soviet writers faltered as these colossal structures led to slavery and destruction, and they were obliged to labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society. Frank Westerman sweeps the reader along to the dramatic final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099461647

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Engineers of the Soul draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as engineers of the soul , were encouraged to sing the praises of construction. But the initial enthusiasm of Soviet writers faltered as these colossal structures led to slavery and destruction, and they were obliged to labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society. Frank Westerman sweeps the reader along to the dramatic final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099461647

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