Khrushchev’s Cold Summer reviewed by Matthew Light

Matthew Light of the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto reviews Khrushchev’s Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform after Stalin by Miriam Dobson at the Law & Politics Book Review. You can read the whole review here. An excerpt:

“Dobson’s book is a fascinating study of the scope and limits of criminal justice policy liberalization in an authoritarian regime. On the one hand, as noted above, Khrushchev’s reforms were limited from the outset by his unwillingness to countenance measures that could undermine the Communist Party’s rule, as well as his increasing disappointment with (as he saw it) the unwillingness of the ex-convicts to conform to the norms of Soviet society. Indeed, one of Dobson’s more interesting findings is that criminal justice reforms were also blocked in part by popular opposition. As she argues, Khrushchev and his government had to deal with – and ultimately accommodate – the highly punitive views of many Soviet citizens and low-level officials, which of course had been encouraged (not to say required) during Stalin’s more than two decades in absolute power. On the other hand, the fact remains that Khrushchev managed to engineer the release of some 4 million prisoners from the Gulag over a barely five-year period, which must surely make the amnesties of the early 1950s one of the largest releases of prisoners in contemporary world history.”

Khrushchev’s Cold Summer reviewed by Matthew Light