Documenting Communism
Documenting Communism

Documenting Communism

The Hoover Project to Microfilm and Publish the Soviet Archives


240 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: ebook: PDF, ebook: EPUB, Paperback, Hardcover

Hardcover, $34.95 (US $34.95) (CA $46.95)

Publication Date: June 2024

ISBN 9780817925543


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In late 1991, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. Over the next 12 years, the Hoover Institution microfilmed and published the newly opened records of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet State. Among the 10 million pages were records of the central organs of the Communist Party; the NKVD, which regulated the ordinary lives of the Russian people; the GULAG, the secret police department that ran the forced labor camps; and the 1992 trial of the Communist Party.

Charles Palm, who led this mission, details how he and his colleagues secured a historic agreement with the Russian Federation, then launched and successfully carried out the joint project with the Russian State Archives and their partner, Chadwyck-Healey Ltd. The success of the project hinged on managing logistics among the three partners across three continents, facing down critics in Russia and elsewhere, and navigating the unstable political terrain that prevailed in Russia during the 1990s. The Hoover Institution’s decisive action during a brief window of opportunity preserved on microfilm and provided worldwide access to the records of Soviet Communism and helped bring to account one of the most consequential ideologies of the 20th century.


“Scholars, including perhaps most importantly scholars from Russia, will be using these materials for many decades. . . . It’s a fantastic story.”
—Michael McFaul, director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and former US ambassador to Russia

“An international collaboration that profoundly affected scholarship and helped render history’s judgment on a dangerous, pathological ideology.”
—Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize­–winning Gulag: A History

“Of great interest . . . to anyone who wants a better understanding of Russian politics and archival affairs during the first decade after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.”
—Mark Kramer, director of Cold War studies, Harvard University

“The achievement was literally historic. This book tells the fascinating, at times gripping, story.”
—Mark Harrison, emeritus professor of economics, University of Warwick

“Against considerable odds, Palm pulled off one of the most complex and successful coups in modern national-archives history.”
—Paul Gregory, research fellow, Hoover Institution, and Cullen Professor Emeritus, University of Houston

Author Biography

Condoleezza Rice (foreword) was the sixty-sixth US secretary of state under George W. Bush. She is currently the director of the Hoover Institution.

Charles G. Palm is the deputy director emeritus of the Hoover Institution, where he was an archivist and librarian for thirty-one years, the last eighteen directing the Hoover Institution Library & Archives. His published works include Milton Friedman on Freedom and Guide to the Hoover Institution Archives.

Charles Chadwyck-Healey (appendix) is founder of the Chadwyck-Healey Group of academic publishing companies, now part of ProQuest.

Stephen Kotkin (introduction) is the Kleinheinz Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford. His books include Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941 and Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928.