Between Truth and Time A History of Soviet Central Television Christine Elaine Evans

Eurasia Past and Present
Publication date:
04 Oct 2016
Yale University Press
360 pages: 235 x 156 x 22mm
20 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The first full-length, archive-based history of Soviet Central Television’s production and programming in the decades before perestroika

In the first full-length study of Soviet Central Television to draw extensively on archival sources, interviews, and television recordings, Evans challenges the idea that Soviet mass culture in the Brezhnev era was dull and formulaic. Tracing the emergence of play, conflict, and competition on Soviet news programs, serial films, and variety and game shows, Evans shows that Soviet Central Television’s most popular shows were experimental and creative, laying the groundwork for Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms and the post-Soviet media system.

Christine E. Evans is assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in Milwaukee, WI.

“This engagingly written book will be of great interest to those interested in late socialism (inside and outside the USSR), and media more generally. It intersects with conversations about late socialism, the role of intellectuals in the USSR, youth, media technology, celebrity, class, cultural politics, and the question of political legitimacy in authoritarian regimes.” —Diane Koenker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“An impressive, original new history of the most prominent ‘public sphere’ of the late Soviet period. The scholarship is immaculate. I consider this the most insightful study yet produced of Soviet culture in the purportedly grey period of 1968-85.” —Stephen Lovell, King’s College London


"Evans handles matters of reception and production with great intelligence, theoretical sophistication and admirable clarity. Her rigorous research in Soviet-era archives deeply enriches our understanding of what seemed to outsiders to be the most boring and conservative of Soviet media. She has found a series of sweet spots between producers and consumers for which the best of cultural studies has always striven. This path-breaking book is a must-read for students at all levels in a wide range of disciplines."--Robert Edelman, University of California, San Diego

“This book will resonate with anyone interested in both the history of mass communications and late state socialism.” —Lewis Siegelbaum, Jack and Margaret Sweet Professor of History at Michigan State University

"In exhuming 1970’s Soviet television, Christine Evans makes a fascinating discovery. Both the experimentalism of Gorbachev’s era and the neo-rigidity of Putin’s got their start under, yes, Leonid Brezhnev. Tocqueville told us this is how revolutions—and counter-revolutions—work, but Evans brings his insight to life. A subtle, illuminating, entertaining book.”—Stephen Sestanovich, author of Maximalist: America in the World from Truman to Obama