The Many Lives of Khrushchev’s Thaw in the Moscow Times

Lesley Chamberlain reviews The Many Lives of Khrushchev’s Thaw: Experience and Memory in Moscow’s Arbat in the June 20th issue of the Moscow Times: Generation Arbat

Chamberlain concludes by writing:

This book is a contribution to the vexed, still continuing history of the modernization of the city of Moscow, based on highly partial notions of what “history” amounts to and how it should be “preserved.” By restaging some of the outspoken, even heckled, neighborhood protests that took place in a world closed to foreign scrutiny, it also explodes any monolithic notion of the thaw as a time of unequivocal optimism and renewal. The latest contribution to that myth came in the late 1980s, when the glasnost era claimed the thaw as a worthy predecessor. Change is not easy anywhere, and even when it is positively intended, it often does violence to the fabric of daily life that helps successive generations make sense of who they are.

The Many Lives of Khrushchev’s Thaw in the Moscow Times