Siberia and the Exile Systemby George Kennan

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  • American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

    Siberia and the Exile System by George KennanReview by: Donald W. TreadgoldThe Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring, 1959), pp. 84-85Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European LanguagesStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/305557 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 02:46

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  • 84 The Slavic and East European Journal

    Ware complex into separate subgroups under the influence of local substrata seems to corroborate it.

    Dr. Gimbutas' rejection of a uniform comb- and Pit- marked Pottery complex in Northeastern Europe is basedon good evidence, but her negative approach to the linguistic side of the problem, namely the origin and diffusion of the Finno- Ugrian stock, is far from solving the question. This very com- plex problem is in dire need of a thorough re-examination from the archaelogical, as well as linguistic and anthropological, point of view.

    Dr. Gimbutas' monograph represents the first attempt to treat the large field of eastern European archaeology as a whole. Its outstanding and lasting qualities appear in the fol- lowing: (1) the presentation of the results of the field work in eastern Europe in mid-twentieth century and its correlation with the prehistory of central Europe; (2) a sound, careful, critical, and independent approach to the chronological prob- lems and the evidence of stratification; and (3) the suggestion of new approaches and new solutions to the crucial problems of central European late neolithic. It is an extremely important contribution to European prehistory, and we can only hope that its second part will follow soon.

    Viktor KGressaar New York Public Library

    George Kennan. Siberia and the Exile System. Abridged from the first edition of 1891. With an Introd. by George Frost Kennan. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1958. xix, 244, $5.00.

    George Kennan began the difficult journey described in this book in the belief that the Russian government's measures taken in the struggle with the revolutionaries had been unfairly con- demned and that the latter were "unreasonable and wrong- headed fanatics." However, his first meeting with a political exile, in Semipalatinsk, persuaded him differently and initiated a complete change of view. As a result, the book was a burn- ing indictment of the exile system and the tsarist regime.

    According to the dust jacket, the reasons for reissuing the work in the present abridged form at this time include restor- ing to the public a report "essential to an understanding of the present-day Russian regime" and also suggesting to the reader the "disconcerting" comparison between Tsarist Russia's use of the concepts of "guilt by association, guilt by refusal to in- form on others, guilt by reason of past activities, punishment as a precautionary measure for something not yet done " and their use by the United States government today. In fact, nei- ther the excellent Introduction to the second edition,written by the author's gifted nephew, George Frost Kennan, nor any other insertion in the whole book attempts to connect the conditions described therein either with the Soviet regime or the contem- porary American scene. The Introduction describes the au- thor's life and work well and briefly, but his nephew does not

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  • Reviews 85

    conceal his own reservations about the author's failure to con- sider fully the "reckless and certainly criminal actions " in- volved in the "preposterous and indiscriminate campaign of terrorism" which resulted in the exile of many of the prisoners described in the book.

    The author reports with evident faithfulness everything he sees, and distinguishes between the humane officials who tried to improve prison conditions and those who were corrupt, cal- lous, and vicious. However, he neglects to make other dis- tinctions--between trial by jury in Russia (which he does not mention; he devotes almost a page to Vera Zasuli6 without not- ing that a jury actually acquitted her for a terrorist act which she did not attempt to deny) and other types of trial or "exile by administrative process " (to which he gives a whole chapter), or between the political exiles' level of education and private morality and some of the acts which they committed. Kennan's book was a piece of journalism intended to expose certain evils; this it did with success. However, it is an act of dubious re- sponsibility on the part of the publisher to represent the newly reissued portion of the work (or indeed the complete original) as being a sufficiently balanced picture of Russian law, Russia, or Siberia of the time to enable the reader to draw conclusions which bear on the evaluation of the Soviet regime or contempo- rary American justice.

    Donald W. Treadgold University of Washington

    Georg von Rauch, A History of Soviet Russia. New York: F. A. Praeger, 1957. xiii, 493, $6.75.

    Although the Soviet regime is now forty-odd years old, its historiography is surprisingly scanty, and the general histories of the Soviet Union can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The reason why historians have tended to avoid broad historical surveys of that country are partly to be sought in the delicate political aspects of this topic, and partly in purely technical difficulties, namely the inadequacy of primary and monographic sources. For the period of the Revolution and Civil War, the primary materials are extremely rich, since nearly every lit- erate participant either wrote down his memoirs or was inter- viewed by historians, and the Soviet government, operating through its institutions of Party history, has published tons of additional materials. The opposition movements are not quite as well served as the Bolshevik movement, and many facets of the White movement are still obscure, but the documentation of their history is still quite adequate. In the NEP period the source materials begin to dry up, but fortunately there exists a large body of information gathered by the opposition (much of it published by 6migrd journals like the SocialistiEeskij vest- nik) and by Trockij, whose archive is presently at Harvard. After Stalin's seizure of power, i.e., after roughly 1930, reli- able primary materials on internal policy became virtually nonexistent. It is no exaggeration to say that we have less

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    Article Contentsp. 84p. 85

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring, 1959), pp. 1-106Front MatterSoviet Language Policy: Theory and Practice [pp. 1-24]The Impact of Russian and Western Literature on Mongolia [pp. 25-34]Foreigh Drama in Eighteenth Century Polish Dress [pp. 35-42]Zdenek Nemecek (1894-1957), Poet of Czech Emigrants [pp. 43-46]Foreign Borrowings in Russian [pp. 47-54]Report of the National Information Center on the Status of Russian in Secondary Schools [pp. 55-61]ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 62-63]Review: untitled [pp. 63-65]Review: untitled [pp. 65-67]Review: untitled [pp. 67-68]Review: untitled [pp. 68-69]Review: untitled [pp. 69-70]Review: untitled [pp. 70-72]Review: untitled [pp. 72-73]Review: untitled [pp. 73-74]Review: untitled [pp. 74-75]Review: untitled [pp. 75-77]Review: untitled [pp. 78-80]Review: untitled [pp. 80-81]Review: untitled [pp. 81-82]Review: untitled [pp. 82-84]Review: untitled [pp. 84-85]Review: untitled [pp. 85-86]Review: untitled [pp. 87-89]Review: untitled [pp. 89-90]Review: untitled [pp. 90-91]Review: untitled [pp. 91-92]Review: untitled [pp. 92-93]Books Received [pp. 94]

    News and Notes [pp. 95-105]Back Matter [pp. 106-106]