Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921-1941

Sheila Fitzpatrick writes:

Michael David-Fox’s Showcasing the Great Experiment is the story of Soviet wooing of the Western intelligentsia, focusing on VOKS under Kameneva and Arosev. About a hundred thousand foreigners visited the Soviet Union in the prewar period, many of them left-leaning intellectuals, and the story of their ‘duping’ is familiar from Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims (1981). David-Fox makes it a more complicated and more interesting story, with the West seen bamboozling the Kremlin while the Kremlin bamboozles gullible Westerners; the Soviet side is no longer a monolith but includes a variety of players with their own agendas, notably the ‘Stalinist Westernisers’, intellectuals who actively sought cultural contact with the West.

(LRB 8 March 2012)