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The Hazards of Urban Life in Late Stalinist Russia
Health, Hygiene, and Living Standards, 1943–1953


  • Date Published: May 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521113731

£ 82.00

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About the Authors
  • This is the first detailed study of the standard of living of ordinary Russians following World War II. It examines urban living conditions under the Stalinist regime with a focus on the key issues of sanitation, access to safe water supplies, personal hygiene and anti-epidemic controls, diet and nutrition, and infant mortality. Comparing five key industrial regions, it shows that living conditions lagged some fifty years behind Western European norms. The book reveals that, despite this, the years preceding Stalin's death saw dramatic improvements in mortality rates thanks to the application of rigorous public health controls and Western medical innovations. While tracing these changes, the book also analyzes the impact that the absence of an adequate urban infrastructure had on people's daily lives and on the relationship between the Stalinist regime and the Russian people, and, finally, how the Soviet experience compared to that of earlier industrializing societies.

    • The first in-depth study of urban conditions during any period of Soviet history
    • Provides detailed statistical data on diet and nutrition, and on infant mortality, never before analyzed at a comparative local level
    • Will appeal to urban and labor historians, historians of the Soviet Union and economists and economic historians interested in Soviet economic development and industrialization
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… there is a magnificence about Filtzer's achievement in The Hazards of Urban Life [in Late Stalinist Russia]. Most of its empirical detail, and many of its conclusions, cannot be challenged. It stands right at the front of writing on late Stalinism …' Reviews in History (

    'This detailed monograph is highly recommended for specialists in late Stalinism and Soviet society more generally. The amount of data presented in 48 figures, 42 tables, and the text itself is prodigious. The analysis is clear and the consistent comparative focus thought-provoking.' Mark Edele, The Russian Review

    '… powerful … a rich and thought-provoking study.' Julie Hessler, Journal of Cold War Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521113731
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • contains: 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The impossible task: keeping cities clean
    2. Water
    3. Personal hygiene and epidemic control
    4. Diet and nutrition: the 1947 food crisis and its aftermath
    5. Infant mortality

  • Author

    Donald Filtzer, University of East London
    Donald Filtzer is Professor of Russian History at the University of East London. His previous publications include Soviet Workers and Late Stalinism: Labour and the Restoration of the Stalinist System After World War Two (2002), Soviet Workers and the Collapse of Perestroika: The Soviet Labour Process and Gorbachev's Reforms, 1985–1991 (1994) and The Khrushchev Era: De-Stalinization and the Limits of Reform in the USSR, 1953–1964 (1993).

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