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August 2000
336 pages  

6 x 9
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Models of Nature
Ecology, Conservation, and Cultural Revolution in Soviet Russia
Weiner, Douglas
Models of Nature studies the early and turbulent years of the Soviet conservation movement from the October Revolution to the mid-1930s—Lenin’s rule to the rise of Stalin. This new edition includes an afterword by the author that reflects upon the study's impact and discusses advances in the field since the book was first published.
Douglas R. Weiner is professor of history at the University of Arizona, and the author of A Little Corner of Freedom: Russian Nature Protection from Stalin to Gorbachev. He was awarded the book prize of the Moscow Society of Naturalists, Russia’s oldest scientific society, for the Russian edition of Models of Nature.
“This book will inspire some readers, it will unmask others, and it will cast yet others into despair. Others will read it as a revelation. But it inevitably had to be written, and lo, it has appeared.”—Novyi mir

“Douglas R. Weiner treats conservation––the main topic of this book––as a complex phenomenon molded by government policies, scientific ideas, cultural values, and ideological tenets. He concentrates on the Soviet period from the October Revolution to the consolidation of Stalinist rule in the mid-1930s. . . . Thoroughly documented and firmly integrated, this book is a major contribution to the history of Soviet science, politics, and culture.”—American Historical Review

“Professor Weiner’s book adds an interesting and fresh view to Soviet/Russian history. His findings are important not only for the environmental movement, but also for a better understanding of the passive resistance to Stalin’s repressions from educated society (intelligentsia).”—Alexey Yablokov, former environmental adviser to Boris Yelstin

“Weiner’s thoroughly researched volume goes along way toward unraveling the Soviet environmental enigma. Weiner’s main focus is on what he terms the ecological conservation movement in the Soviet Union, its origins, its struggle for governmental approval and, most importantly, the reasons for its demise under Stalin. . . . Models of Nature will be a well used volume by all Soviet specialists . . . it should also be a major reference work for all those who study the history of science, all who find enlightenment in the advancement of conservationist philosophies, and all who are concerned about the abuse of political power.”—Annals of the Association of American Geographers

“This is a very good book—carefully researched, well-written and handsomely put together.”—Zigurds L. Zile, Slavic Review

“A fascinating account of lost opportunities . . . Weiner is to be congratulated for enabling us to comprehend better one facet of decision making in the ostensibily less complex Stalin era.”—Russian Review

“Weiner analyzes the rural ideologies at work on both sides, with special attention to the entanglement of science and ideologies, since everyone claimed scientific authority.”—Science

“In his beautifully written book . . . Weiner chronicles the fate of Russia’s conservation movement during the first fifteen years of Communist rule. . . with a fine mixture of compassion and scholarly detachment, Weiner rescues from oblivion a number of fascinating individuals who understood that nature is far more powerful than any political or economic force. Much of what one finds in Models of Nature could be usefully integrated into the intellectual armamentarium of the most contemporary ecologically minded person.”—Natural History

“Models of Nature remains of great interest to students of conservation and the history of science and sheds light on Soviet scientists’ often bold activism as well as on bureaucratic activities.”---Victor Rosenberg, History: Reviews of New Books

“In this book there are masterful analyses of the alternation between conscious and innate models of social development and generalisations on how the early Soviet period generated new and often arrogant models of human nature; both linked to well-documented examples of specific struggles to preserve “natural monuments” in Ukraine, Siberia, or central Russia.”---David G. Anderson, University of Aberdeen, Revolutionary Russia 14:1 (June 2001)

Complete Description Reviews
Russian and East European Studies
Russia and East Europe/History

With a new afterword by the author A study of the early and turbulent years of the Soviet conservation movement. Focusing on the period from the October Revolution to the mid-1930s (from Lenin’s rule to the rise of Stalin), Douglas R. Weiner studies the divergence between the growing ecological movement in the country and the state’s social and economic policies. The book offers a view of both sides of this dispute: scientific conservation movements on the one hand and an industrializing nation’s attitude toward science, scientists, nature, and massive development on the other. Weiner explains the development of pioneering conservation institutions, state practices, and ecological theory in the Soviet Union during the 1920s , and why those developments were sidelined or quashed by Stalin. The book provides a telling example of the social construction of science, showing how the perceived political implications of rival ecological theories influenced Soviet scientists, and chronicles the nature protection movement’s conflicts with both the vigilantes of the Cultural Revolution and Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan, which blatantly ignored potential environmental consequences in its quest to industrialize on a large scale. The new afterword reflects upon the study's impact and discusses advances in the field since the book was first published. Now in paperback, this classic text is well suited for course use in Russian history, environmental studies, and history of science.


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