The first full-length study of natural and man-made disasters in the Soviet Union.
Earthquakes, nuclear accidents, and floods were among the many unexpected tragedies that struck the Soviet Union over its history. Requiring the immediate mobilization of vast resources and aid, and embedded within a specific context and time, these catastrophes provide critical insights into the nature of the twentieth-century Communist state.
All Shook Up takes a close look at the representation in film, the political repercussions, and the social opportunities of large-scale catastrophes in separate Soviet epochs, including the 1927 earthquake in the Crimean peninsula, the 1948 earthquake in Ashgabat, the Tashkent earthquake in 1966, the Chernobyl explosion in 1986, and the Armenian earthquake in 1988. Juxtaposing various disaster responses and demonstrating the ways both Soviet authorities and citizens molded them to their own cultural needs, Nigel Raab highlights the radical shifts in disaster policy from one leader to the next. Given the opportunity to act outside regular parameters, Soviet residents not only rebuilt their devastated cities, but also experimented with new values and crafted their own worldview while the state struggled to return the situation to normal.
Based on archival research conducted in Russia and Ukraine, All Shook Up fills a gap in a global literature and challenges stereotypical representations of the Soviet Union as a monolithic state.