Welcome to the final edition of the 20th-Century Russia Digest for Spring 2016. The collective went out on a very strong note and the best of the final posts are featured in the top section of the site. These posts suggest the array of challenges that ultimately overwhelmed the Soviet system, including the war in Afghanistan, the effort to affect social and economic change by regulating the supply of alcohol, mounting tensions in the Caucasus, and the successful bid for independence from the Baltic republics.
The lower section of the site features posts the class selected as “Greatest Hits” from the entire semester. Your editorial team is proud of the range of interests, topics, talent, and perspectives represented here and elsewhere on the site. We’ve learned a lot together and these greatest hits offer visitors to the site an overview of how exciting that journey has been. As part of an effort to see how broader social dynamics worked over the long haul we are assigning the final “sticky post” below the slider to Sean’s wonderfully detailed and provocative examination of the importance of youth and the dynamics of generation to the success of the Soviet project. It’s a marvelous read – and you won’t want to skip the video of the pioneers proclaiming their devotion to the cause. I joked that a more apt title for the post would have been “Curiosity Killed the Communist,” but will let you all judge for yourselves.
As your editor-in-chief I want to thank you all for your enthusiasm, commitment and patience over these last few months. There were some bumps along the way, but you navigated them with grace and humor. Thanks also to Dr. Ewing for stepping in while I was ill and to David for keeping the website humming.
Finally, please join me in thanking your devoted, accomplished and talented student editors. The weekly editions and the discussions in class and in the comments would have been impoverished or absent without them. They brought their best to the class and the website and we all benefited from their insight, experience and interest in Soviet History — Urra for Courtney and Sean!