Engineers of the Soul draws the reader into the wild euphoria of the Russian Revolution, as art and reality are bent to radically new purposes. Writers of renown, described by Stalin as 'engineers of the soul', were encouraged to sing the praises of construction. But the initial enthusiasm of Soviet writers faltered as these colossal structures led to slavery and destruction, and they were obliged to labour on in the service of a deluded totalitarian society.
Frank Westerman sweeps the reader along to the dramatic final confrontation between writers and engineers that signalled the end of the Soviet empire.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
A compelling combination of literary criticism and travelogue - Scotland on Sunday
Westerman is a very fine writer and his stories, characters and digressions are as delicately wrought as a watch mechanism. Like Bruce Chatwin and the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, he has elevated the authorial journalist-traveller into a brilliant, magic storyteller; like them he seeks out the smaller, human-sized epics that play out their tragedies against the backdrop of history - Sunday Times
Westerman completes a portrait at once engaging and devastating. As such, it comes closer than any conventional literary history to defining the elusive Socialist Realism. - Independent
An extraordinarily compelling, imaginative and subtle mixture of history, literary criticism and travelogue - History Today
Brilliant, illuminating and rich - Literary Review
The fate of Soviet writers under Stalin is movingly explored in this outstanding mix of travel book and literary study, which has about it more than a hint of Bruce Chatwin - Sunday Times
Westerman merges investigative journalism, literary history and travel writing as he journeys across modern Russia to look at the legacy of literature under the Soviet Union... intriguing - Big Issue
As he travels around the former-USSR talking to ordinary Russians and visiting landmarks of the Soviet era, Dutch author and journalist Frank Westerman tells the story of authors like Pasternak and Gorky, the latter considered so important to the cause, Stalin launched an undercover operation to bring him back to Russia - Glasgow Herald
Winding his way along numerous interconnected lines of inquiry, Westerman engages the reader with ease in the surprise and satisfactions of his fascinating, often tragic, discoveries about broken human lives, forgotten books and films, a nd places the desert has reclaimed - Times Literary Supplement
Highly recommended...to wrestle travelogue, literary biography, social history and bad communist cinema into such a readable tale is a triumph - Sunday Times
While western studies have tended to focus on books that were clandestine, banned, confiscated or smuggled out of the USSR, Westerman... is more interested in the works of converts, hangers-on, backsliders and doubters. Who'd have thought a literary history of hydraulics would be so readable? - Guardian
Frank Westerman was born in 1964 and lived and worked in Moscow from 1997 to 2002 as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Westerman is the author of five highly praised books. His work has been published in more than ten languages and has won many prizes.