Russian Popular Culture
Entertainment and Society Since 1900
Cambridge Univ Pr 1992. ISBN: 978-0521369862, 304 pages
About Dean Reed: page 160
"In his richly detailed survey of Russian popular culture since 1900, Richard Stites uses
largely ignored sources - detective stories, science fiction, rock-n-roll lyrics, jokes and
circus and vaudeville routines - to reveal a side of Russian life largely unknown in the West.
And yet, this is not a trivial book... Its great virtue, however, is to illuminate an important
and largely unknown dimension of Russia's social history. Serious, but by no means solemn,
Stites's book is accessible to anyone interested in learning more about a country and a people
that have obsessed and confused us for almost a century."
"With this book, Richard Stites again demonstrates that he is one of the most creative and
original historians currently writing in the field of twentieth-century Russian history...
Although the book is relatively short, it is a big book - big in ideas and in the extraordinary
richness of the material. Stites writes with authority, verve, and humor. His book is required
reading for anyone curious about Russia's cultural life in the twentieth century."
"Richard Stites savors the historian's calling as storyteller. Like his earlier works on
women's emancipatory movements in Imperial and Soviet Russia and on utopian dreams and practices
in the revolutionary years, this account of popular entertainment from the waning years of the
tsarist regime to the last years of the Communist order is rich in narrative detail and is
engagingly presented... Stites must be praised for achieving this in a book that is both
useful and a pleasure to 'consume.'"
Some foreign singers were welcomed. This was true of the American-born radical singer, Dean Reed, who became an East German citizen and a Soviet bloc star from the late sixties until his mysterious death in 1986. Reed made his first Moscow appearance to wild applause in 1966 and won the Komsomol Lenin Prize in 1979. The Reed repertoire included folk, fifties-style rock and roll, and songs of Third World liberation. Dean Reed was, metaphorically speaking, Pat Boone with a Marxist vision; that is to say he possessed an evangelical, clean-cut manner of singing, gesticulating, and speaking that had gone out of style in his native land, but that was taken by Russians as quintessentially American. Although most Americans had never heard of Reed (and still have not), a 1976 poll showed that he was one of the Americans best known to Soviet citizens; and on a 1989 television retrospective on his life, political pundit Georgy Arbatov and pop-rock musician Stas Namin recalled Reed fondly as the conscience of America. Most Russians admired him at least as much for his song style, his smile, and his engaging manner as for his leftist politics.21
21 Ryback, Rock Around the Bloc, 131-4; New York Times, November 28, 1966; MZh, 2 (1979) 22-3; Izvestiya, January 17, 1982; Hayes, "The Dean Reed Story"; Soviet television documentary on Reed, September 24, 1989.
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