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The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union (Russian Research Center Studies) Hardcover – 1 Nov 1993

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1 Nov. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674354362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674354364
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,399,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


This remarkable book by Loren R. Graham deals with one of the many independent minds crushed by the Soviet government.--Hiroaki Kuromiya "American Historical Review "

From the Back Cover

Stalin ordered his execution, but here Peter Palchinsky has the last word. As if rising from an uneasy grave, Palchinsky's ghost leads us through a miasma of Soviet technology and industry, pointing out the mistakes he condemned in his lifetime, the corruption and collapse he predicted, the ultimate price paid for silencing those who were not afraid to speak out. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great service on a rare book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative 1 Sept. 2013
By Semmelweis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, marvelous information about the daily lives of individuals during the period are becoming know. This book focuses on a single engineer and the impact of the Soviet style on the profession.
It tells the story of how blind faith in a system cause truth to be supressed, often at the cost of lives.
Unfortunately, the writing at times becomes polemical.
It is an easy, short read and of value to those interested in the times and anyone who worries about when theory or dogma silences truth.
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars School book... 14 May 2002
By nychen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this for my History, Technology and Science class in college. It is quite intriguing a life that Palchinsky leads. The book starts off telling about his life in general and how it ended, and his influences on Russia. But then halfway through the book, the focus shifts to descriptions of technological failures the Soviet Union encountered and how they struggled to beat other countries in the engineering field.
I don't think this book really gives Palchinsky the credit he desrves and this book certainly isn't all about him, just brief historical facts.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exclude the human element from planning at your peril. 23 Aug. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Soviet Union became the world¹s second largest industrial power, resisted and defeated Hitler¹s armies in World War II, and finally launched the first artificial satellite and first human into Earth orbit. Despite these achievements the Soviet Union collapsed short of the 75th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution.
This small book looks at the Soviet failure from an engineering view, specifically one engineer, Peter Palchinsky. From the beginning of his career in 1905, Palchinsky firmly believed that engineers should consider economic and social conditions along with their technical calculations. Although he was not a Marxist, Palchinsky was a radical who drew many of his social and economic ideas from Kropotkin¹s writings. Palchinsky didn¹t support the Bolsheviks but he did welcome the opportunity to help socialist development in Russia. Palchinsky wanted to keep western capitalists out of Russia as much as possible but he did see that in some circumstances western equipment and knowledge were necessary.
The industrialization policy started by the Bolsheviks and carried further by Stalin emphasized gigantic projects controlled directly from Moscow. Some of the characteristics of the soviet projects included no consideration for local conditions, safety sacrificed to output, rushed tempo of the work, and finally no criticism or debate was allowed. Palchinsky did continue criticizing what he considered a disastrous industrialization policy until he was arrested in the middle of the night in 1928 and finally executed in 1929.
The author offers three examples of gigantic ill-conceived engineering projects in the early Soviet Union and three projects of the 1970¹s and 80¹s. These projects included world¹s largest steel mill in Magnitogorsk, the world¹s largest hydroelectric dam on the Dneiper River, and finally the disastrous White Sea Canal built entirely by prisoners. Palchinsky was involved with the steel mill project and a sever critic of the other two projects. Chernobyl is given as a latter day example to show that the Soviet Union never learned its lesson.
After Palchinsky, engineering training in the Soviet Union became narrower and strictly technical after the 1920¹s. Despite the narrowing of the views of engineering profession in the Soviet Union, engineering training became one of the surest ways of securing government positions. After World War II most Soviet officials came from an engineering background, Brezhnev himself was a graduate of an engineering institute.
The lessons of this book go beyond the experience of the Soviet Union. Any political-economic system that centralizes control, stifles debate and criticism, and ignores human conditions may do so at its peril.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 6 Mar. 2016
By Yayao Moua - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great Item.
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