Spartak Moscow: The Peoples' Team in the Workers' State
A book talk with author Robert Edelman (UC San Diego, History) and discussant Andrei Markovits (University of Michigan, Political Science)
Published: Friday, March 11, 2011
Winner of the 2009 NASSH Book Award (North American Society for Sport History)
Winner of the 2010 Reginald Zelnik Book Prize (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies)
In the informative, entertaining, and generously illustrated Spartak Moscow, a book that will be cheered by soccer fans worldwide, Robert Edelman finds in the stands and on the pitch keys to understanding everyday life under Stalin, Khrushchev, and their successors. Millions attended matches and obsessed about their favorite club, and their rowdiness on game day stood out as a moment of relative freedom in a society that championed conformity. This was particularly the case for the supporters of Spartak, which emerged from the rough proletarian Presnia district of Moscow and spent much of its history in fierce rivalry with Dinamo, the team of the secret police. To cheer for Spartak, Edelman shows, was a small and safe way of saying "no" to the fears and absurdities of high Stalinism; to understand Spartak is to understand how soccer explains Soviet life.