Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize


Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention: Sarah Cameron
Title: The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan (Cornell University Press)

Modern states rarely live in harmony with nomadism. Sarah Cameron shows how Soviet attempts to “modernize” Kazakh herders through forced collectivization led to catastrophe. Placing the events of 1931-1934 in a larger context, Cameron begins in the pre-revolutionary period, showing that Russian authorities also wrestled with making the Kazakh steppe more productive, and continues this story through the 1920s. Using both Russian and Kazakh sources to illustrate the turns and twists of party policy in this region, this study of the Kazakh tragedy in the context of modernization is a major contribution to our understanding of Stalinist social engineering.

Honorable Mention: Victoria Smolkin
Title: A Sacred Space is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism (Princeton University Press)

In A Sacred Space Is Never Empty, Victoria Smolkin provides an insightful and comprehensive history of atheism in the USSR from 1917 to 1991. Smolkin’s rich account illustrates the social and cultural challenges that Soviet Communism faced in trying to destroy religion, as well as the need to create alternative atheist institutions, rituals, and even an atheistic “cosmology” in its place. The book sheds light on the complex ways social revolution unfolded in practice, and also on how the failure to fill the sacred space set the stage for the postSoviet religious revival.

Winner: Eleonory Gilburd