This book is the first to investigate the gap between the plans and the reality of the Soviet Union’s mid-twentieth-century project to industrialize and modernize its agricultural system. Historians agree that the project failed badly: agriculture was inefficient, unpredictable, and environmentally devastating for the entire Soviet period. Yet assigning the blame exclusively to Soviet planners would be off the mark. The real story is much more complicated and interesting, Jenny Leigh Smith reveals in this deeply researched book. Using case studies from five Soviet regions, she acknowledges hubris and shortsightedness where it occurred but also gives fair consideration to the difficulties encountered and the successes—however modest—that were achieved.
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