Russia's Sputnik Generation

Russia's Sputnik Generation

Soviet Baby Boomers Talk about Their Lives
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/02/2006
Format: Paperback 23 b&w photos, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21842-1
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Russia’s Sputnik Generation presents the life stories of eight 1967 graduates of School No. 42 in the Russian city of Saratov. Born in 1949/50, these four men and four women belong to the first generation conceived during the Soviet Union’s return to "normality" following World War II. Well educated, articulate, and loosely networked even today, they were first-graders the year the USSR launched Sputnik, and grew up in a country that increasingly distanced itself from the excesses of Stalinism. Reaching middle age during the Gorbachev Revolution, they negotiated the transition to a Russian-style market economy and remain active, productive members of society in Russia and the diaspora.

In candid interviews with Donald J. Raleigh, these Soviet "baby boomers" talk about the historical times in which they grew up, but also about their everyday experiences—their family backgrounds; childhood pastimes; favorite books, movies, and music; and influential people in their lives. These personal testimonies shed valuable light on Soviet childhood and adolescence, on the reasons and course of perestroika, and on the wrenching transition that has taken place since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Author Bio

Donald J. Raleigh is Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is author, editor, or translator of numerous books, most recently Experiencing Russia’s Civil War: Politics, Society, and Revolutionary Culture in Saratov, 1917–1922.


“In Russia’s Sputnik Generation, Soviet “baby boomers” candidly discuss the historical times in which they grew up as well as their personal experiences. These frank testimonies shed valuable light on Soviet childhood and adolescence, on the reasons and course of perestroika, and on the wrenching transition that has taken place since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.”

“. . . this is an extremely informative book. It is also highly readable, partly because of its novelistic qualities: the characters of both Raleigh and his informants shine through the text. The introduction to each interview includes a lively account of the interviewee’s behaviour during the event as well as a narrative of Raleigh’s various adventures, such as getting lost on the way, in the labyrinth of Moscow University, or being jumped on by an unannounced pet rat. The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs of the informants, for example, at May Day parades, on the beach, or dressed for graduation ball. At the very end, hiding beyond the Index, are photographs of Raleigh himself in 1967 and 2005. A valuable feature of the book is its sparing but deft drawing of parallels between Russians and Americans of the same generation, leading the reader to reflect on how far the book tells a specifically Russian story or, conversely, one more universal.Volume 86, number 4, October 2008”
 — Anne White, Department of European Studies and Modern Languages University of Bath

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Table of Contents


1. "Sasha the Muscovite": Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Konstantinov
2. "Back then I really wanted to join the party": Natalia Valentinovna Altukhova (maiden name Pronina)
3. "We grew up in a normal time": Natalia P.
4. "Our entire generation... welcomed perestroika": Arkadii Olegovich Darchenko
5. "I saw the life of my country, and thereby my own, from a variety of perspectives": Natalia Aleksandrovna Belovolova (maiden name Ianichkina)
6. "It's very hard to be a woman in our country": Olga Vladimirovna Kamaiurova
7. "I came to understand things, but only gradually": Aleksandr Vladimirovich Trubnikov
8. "People have lost a great deal in terms of their confidence in tomorrow": Gennadii Viktorovich Ivanov

Selected Bibliography