Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize


Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention: Alan Barenberg
Title: Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and its Legacy in Vorkuta (Yale University Press)

With his book, Alan Barenberg joins several other recent scholars in a radical break with the deeply-set notion of the Gulag as separate and different from and outside of Soviet life. His narrative of the creation and development of Vorkuta as a coal-mining settlement in the far north, constructed by prisoner “engineers” from its start, is eminently readable but also vibrantly revisionist. The depiction of the Soviet “bosses” who doled out privilege and punishment, the interactions of very different kinds of prisoner and non-prisoner residents, the social hierarchies and negotiations—the political economy of Vorkuta in the context of Soviet pre-war, war-time, and post-war history complements the existing work on Stalinism, remote settlements and prisoner/exile deployments, and the place of camp complexes in the development of the Soviet system. Through his great archival and field research over many years on Vorkuta, Barenberg convincingly demonstrates the profound integration of the Gulag into the whole history of Soviet economic practice, planning, and experience.

Honorable Mention: Karen Dawisha
Title: Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (Simon and Schuster)

Karen Dawisha’s Putin’s Kleptocracy does a magisterial job of sorting through incredibly complicated tangles of political relationships, economic strategies, and entwined practices of kleptocracy and authoritarianism in Russia. Based on a wide variety of journalistic sources and governmental and NGO reports (in multiple languages), the book provides an extremely provocative critique of Russia’s political regime. Many have written about corruption in Russia, but very few pulled the pieces together with the command that Dawisha’s book shows. This is a readable, exciting, fascinating, erudite, compelling, and courageous work.

Winner: Ekaterina Pravilova