Cogs in the Wheel

Mikhail Geller, Author Alfred A. Knopf $22.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-394-56926-0
Unlike hardened anti-Communist cold warriors, Heller avoids ideological mudslinging. His portrayal of the Soviet Union as an unfree society, one where each individual becomes a small cell in a vast organism, is devastating and convincing. A Sorbonne instructor who coauthored Utopia in Power, Heller insists that the Soviet state's overriding goal is the same as it was under Lenin and Stalin: shaping ""human raw material'' into obedient, passive cogs in a machine. Today in the U.S.S.R., he notes, all references to the Bible and the Jewish people have been removed from school texts; women do the heaviest physical work and bear most of the family's burdens but have practically no voice; men act as capricious boys, working off their feelings of powerlessness by abusing their wives. Heller's surprising expose of Gorbachev's touched-up Stalinist vocabulary is brilliant. This is one of the best books ever written on the making of Homo sovieticus and the dilemmas of the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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