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Jason R. Morton
Karen Petrone. The Great War in Russian Memory

Karen Petrone
The Great War in Russian Memory
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011

Jason R. Morton
Address for correspondence: Department of History,
Graduate Office, University of California, Berkeley,
3229 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2550, USA

As indicated by the title, The Great War in Russian Memory aspires to be both a particular history of Russia and an attempt to engage with much broader conversations about the memory of the First World War and its place in the establishment of the postwar order in Europe. Unlike Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (Fussell 1971), a work of literary history, which claimed that the war established a complete rupture with past modes of expression and representation, Karen Petrone’s book documents the memory of World War I in Russia in order to establish continuities. Petrone bridges a prominent divide in the literature, where the Soviet Union is often depicted as having no public memory of the war comparable to that of Europe. Her claim that, in spite of its revolution, the Soviet Union still had a postwar culture that retained significant traces of the past is a subtle challenge to the entire concept of historical rupture. Petrone’s work investigates a variety of cultural artifacts, including literature, films, museums, and diaries, to demonstrate that, despite being largely excluded from histories of Great War memory, the Soviet Union did in fact participate in the pan- European cultural response to the war. The first half of the book explores Soviet incarnations of themes commonly associated with the European memory of the war: “notions of religious faith, the construction of heroes and enemies, representations of manhood and womanhood, justifications of wartime violence, and articulations of national identity”

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