AUTHORJosephson, Paul R.
TITLEPhysics and Politics in Revolutionary Russia
PUBLISHERUniversity of California Press
CITYBerkeley, CA

In the context of the history of physics, this book examines how politics influenced physicists in Soviet Russia between 1900 and World War II. Specifically, the author recounts how Soviet physicists went from being marginalized and underfunded during the Tsarist regime, to being established and well-represented beginning in the early 1920s after the Bolshevik seizure of power, to being persecuted and overly controlled during the Stalinist years of the 1930s. Illustrating the move away from fundamental science and toward the applied-science agenda that characterized the Stalinist years, the book shows how physicists began to be viewed as “bourgeois remnants” whose usefulness to a working class society was questionable. The book emphasizes the positive impact of the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute (LFTI) and the Russian Association of Physicists on the Soviet physics community, using the fluctuating strength of the LFTI's influence as an indicator of the status of physicists in the Soviet Union. Drawing his conclusions at a time before the break up of the Soviet Union, the author argues that pre-World War II politics severely hindered Soviet progress in the physics discipline, crippling an otherwise robust physics community. The book contains a section of black and white photographs, several detailed appendices, thorough endnotes, and an extensive bibliography.

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