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Ordinary people swimming in ideological tides,
This review is from: Red Plenty (Hardcover)
As a 1950's Meccanophile I was thrilled by Spufford's `Backroom Boys' - a tale of British string and sealing wax inventiveness - and was very curious to see what he would make of recent Soviet History. I was not disappointed. He is a piece of work, that Spufford. He can certainly spin a good narrative. He managed to make Soviet History human - combining imagined vignettes of fictional characters with `proper' history. But unlike the usual depressing narratives covering that period (collapse of Communism - inevitable because repressive and over extended militarily) he shines a light on the totally understandable ideological commitment towards an envisioned better future realisable through the application of `Science' - physical, economic and social and managerial. If only the proletariat could be rescued from ignorance and taught to see the light - if only! Utopia is just over the horizon, and why not? What is life about if not the creation of a better world for more people, decent housing, clothing and adequate food? Spufford captures that feeling, that ideological current. Of course we know now that the experiment failed disastrously - but - and this is what I took from Spufford - there were people (ordinary people) who actually wanted it to succeed, who felt that any social organisation was better than a vast peasantry owned by a tiny aristocracy that was pre-revolutionary Russia. Just such a shame that the revolutionaries failed to trust the people.
And more - the 53 pages of notes on which the smooth narrative was based were as fascinating and as informative as the narrative itself. Well done, Spufford.