Face to the Village: The Riazan Countryside under Soviet Rule, 1921-1930

Face to the Village: The Riazan Countryside under Soviet Rule, 1921-1930

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By Tracy McDonald
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2010
World Rights
440 Pages
ISBN 9781487521691
Published Oct 2016
Online discount: 25%
 $44.95    $33.71
ISBN 9781442640825
Published May 2011
Online discount: 25%
 $80.00    $60.00
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781487514082
Published Nov 2016
Online discount: 24%
Full purchase $44.95

In the summer of 1924, the Bolshevik Party called on scholars, the police, the courts, and state officials to turn their attention to the villages of Russia. The subsequent campaign to 'face the countryside' generated a wealth of intelligence that fed into the regime's sense of alarmed conviction that the countryside was a space outside Bolshevik control.

Richly rooted in archival sources, including local and central-level secret police reports, detailed cases of the local and provincial courts, government records, and newspaper reports, Face to the Village is a nuanced study of the everyday workings of the Russian village in the 1920s. Local-level officials emerge in Tracy McDonald's study as vital and pivotal historical actors, existing between the Party's expectations and peasant interests. McDonald's careful exposition of the relationships between the urban centre and the peasant countryside brings us closer to understanding the fateful decision to launch a frontal attack on the countryside in the fall of 1929 under the auspices of collectivization.

Tracy McDonald is an associate professor in the Department of History at McMaster University.

List of Illustrations and Maps
Word Choice and Translation


Part ONE. The Battle for Space: What Physical and Virtual Space Reveal about the Countryside
1 The Setting
2 The Police
3 The Courts
4 The Rural Soviet

Part TWO. The Battle for Resources: What Non-Violent Crime Reveals about the Countryside
5 T axation: Talking with the Taxman about Subsistence; or, Feeding the Proletarian Cat
6 T he Forest: Wood, Warmth, and Repair

Part THREE. The Battle for Souls: What Violent Crime Reveals about the Countryside
7 Bandit Tales: The Steam of the Still and the Lure of Easy Profit
8 Hooliganism: Toward the Cultured Life
9 Rough Justice: The Village Disciplines Its Own
10 Pitelino



‘This rich study has a great deal to say about the rural background to collectivization, and about the way that party leaders responded to, and were frustrated by, peasants’ actions and attitudes … This is a thoughtful, penetrating, and important contribution to our understanding of the Soviet village during NEP and collectivization.’

James W. Heinzen, American Historical Review

‘Tracy McDonald's excellent book offers both authentic details and an illuminating set of important general conclusions drawn from close observation of a fascinating layer of rural experience in the early Soviet Union…. Face to the village will appeal to a broad array of students and scholars interested in early Soviet political and social history and peasant studies.’

Brian Bonhomme, The Russian Review vol. 71:01:2012

‘Tracy McDonald’s book presents a fascinating insight into the intricate world of the Central Russian peasant in the years before the violent imposition of collectivization … the book is an engrossing study which will be of great value to researchers and students interested in the relationship between state and society in the wake of tumultuous events and in understanding the world of the pre-collectivization Soviet peasantry.’

Christopher Lash, Europe-Asia Studies

Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Reginald Zelnik Prize (United States) - Winner in 2012