The Stalin Cult
  • Jan 17, 2012
    352 p., 7 x 10
    62 b/w + 21 color illus.
    ISBN: 9780300169522
  • Cloth: $85.00 tx
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Art and Architecture

Series Information
Yale-Hoover Series on Stalin

The Stalin Cult

A Study in the Alchemy of Power

  • Jan Plamper


"This special book won't get lost in the sea of books about Stalin. Jan Plamper takes the reader into "the kitchen" of Soviet propaganda where its main dish—the myth of the "beloved leader"—was prepared. Although millions of Soviet citizens never saw Stalin in person, they were certain that they had "seen" him. From this stunningly intelligent study, we learn how and by whom this grand illusion was produced."—Elena Zubkova, Institute of Russian History, Moscow

"This is an excellent book which for the first time, and on a documentary basis, uncovers the mechanisms of the making of Stalin's personality cult in the visual arts."—Vitaly Komar, Artist, New York/Moscow

"This long-awaited, meticulously researched book advances our understanding of how Stalin's image came to exercise such thralldom over Soviet society. Highlighting the importance of visual culture in the Soviet polity, Jan Plamper's generously illustrated study is attentive not only to the visual strategies adopted by the cult artefacts - subjecting them to illuminating visual analysis - but also to the contexts in which they were produced, disseminated, and took on public meanings."--Susan E. Reid, Professor of Russian Visual Culture, University of Sheffield.

“The crafting, production, and canonization of Stalin’s image was no simple endeavor. It involved technologies that gave Stalin’s cult a particularly modern flavor. . . through this alchemy of institutional and individual power did Stalin’s personality cult penetrate the psyche of the Soviet citizenry.”—Sean Guillory, New Books in Russia and Eurasia

“Plamper’s account represents the most rigorous and lucid analysis of the Stalin cult, not just in art but also in Soviet culture as a whole, by any historian to date. It will be essential reading not only for Soviet historians, but also for all those interested in the genesis and evolution of Stalinism, a key phenomenon of the modern politics that Plamper analyses so eloquently in this remarkable book.”—Polly Jones, Times Higher Education

“Plamper has written a superbly documented, truly original and engrossing analysis…Plamper offers a gripping and persuasive explanation…an impressive art book.”—Vladimir Tismaneanu (University of Maryland), International Affairs

“An excellent study which greatly advances our understanding of one of the most important cultural artifacts of the twentieth century.”— Graeme Gill, Russian Review

"Plamper's section on art is thorough and revealing."— George Walden, Times Literary Supplement

“A fascinating history of the making and marketing of the Stalinist cult, [characterized by] clarity, sharp analysis, and a deft selection of images and illustrations. . . . A rich, valuable contribution to both modern intellectual history and the history of Russia."—Choice


"Jan Plamper’s excellent study of the Stalin cult makes an important contribution to our understanding of this phenomenon."—Erik van Ree, Revolutionary Russia

“Invaluably, Plamper provides a wider framework for considering Socialist Realism, while his history of the Stalin cult of personality and the way that art was organised and controlled under this despotic ruler makes this essential reading for anyone who wants to gain a more profound understanding of the period, the art, and the way it was produced.”—Christina Lodder, Burlington Magazine