Showcasing the Great Experiment
Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921-1941
During the 1920s and 1930s thousands of European and American writers, professionals, scientists, and artists came to record their impressions of the “Soviet experiment”. The interwar pilgrimage of these Western intellectuals and fellow-travelers remains one of the most notorious episodes in political and intellectual history.
Showcasing the Great Experiment, incorporating far-reaching analysis of the declassified archival records of the agencies charged with crafting the international image of communism, brings this story into new focus as one of the great cross-cultural and trans-ideological encounters of the twentieth century. While many visitors were profoundly affected by their Soviet tours, so too was the Soviet system itself: the early experiences of building showcases and teaching outsiders to perceive the future-in-the-making constitute a neglected part of the emergence of Stalinism at home.
Michael David-Fox is associate professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of History at Georgetown University. A founding editor of the journal Kritika, he is the author or editor of eight books on Russian, Soviet, and transnational history.