Russia 1856-1956 - Stalin Was the Most Effective Reformer. How Far Do You Agree?

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Evaluation of sources From 1855-1956, Stalin was the most effective reformer, to what extent do you agree? Much has been written about Lenin and Stalin, much of which was rejected by the Soviet Union until after Perestroika. With the latter, historians have had access to primary information from the Soviet Union and this has led to considerable rethinking of the communist period. This is not to say that there is consensus. There remain different approaches - economic, social and political. This made choosing sources difficult. Evans and Jenkins gave a broad overview. Similarly, Oxley was useful for context. Both were useful for corroborating cross references for facts and statistics (such as industrial figures where official statistics would have been misleading). Lynch and Waldron provided an understanding of, for example, reform prior to the revolution of 1917. Lynch’s approach is chronological whereas Waldron looks at particular themes, for example education in the pre revolutionary period. Waldron was particularly useful in comparing society in Tsarist times and under Stalin. Riasanovsky, Freeze and Service were very influential. All were particularly good as they included new research post 1991 which has extended our knowledge particularly in the areas of economic and social development. Riasanovsky’s book is particularly good in these two areas and makes interesting contrasts with Tsarist times. Freeze is better on the political aspects drawing out the influence of ideology in the Soviet period. It offers a balanced historical account recognising that not only are there different interpretations but also further may provide new insights. Where Riasanovsky5 and Freeze6 make reference to different historical interpretations, Service provides his own. He argues that where different interpretations offer insights, none fully describe modern Russia
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