By Loren R. Graham

Stalin ordered his execution, yet the following Peter Palchinsky has the ultimate. Palchinsky tells of Soviet know-how and undefined, the errors he condemned in his lifetime, the corruption and cave in he expected, the last word fee paid for silencing those that weren't afraid to talk out. the tale of this visionary engineer’s existence and paintings, as Graham tells it, can be the tale of the Soviet Union’s commercial promise and failure.

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Extra resources for The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

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You are a darling that you speak so openly with your wife-friend, and it is very good that we can talk with each other, understanding everything simply and correctly . Far be it from me to be jealous of you, and never will I speak nor even think a word of reproach. Isn't it true that we are, first of all, human beings, and friends with each other, and, moreover, a man and a woman? I do not conceal from you that also my thoughts are often occupied with other people, but my liking for them does not in the slightest prevent me from loving my Petik more than any- l 8 THE GH OST OF THE EXE C UTED EN GIN EER one else on earth or prevent me from feeling that I am his indivisible other half toward whom alone I experience passionate feelings ..

3 Inside, Palchinsky and the other officials were counted, their names were taken, and they were led to cells in the Trubetskoi Bastion, an ancient section of the fortress that had held generations of Russian dissidents (including, many years earlier, Palchinsky's mentor Peter Kropotkin) . There Palchinsky joined a mixed lot of other prisoners, some of whom had been locked up before the overthrow of the monarchy months earlier. For the next four months Palchinsky lived with these men, whose political loyalties were heterogeneously linked to socialism, monarchy, and liberal democracy.

In 1926 Palchinsky made a 12,000-kilometer trip through 32 THE GHOST OF THE EXE C UTED ENG I NEER Soviet Central Asia, traveling for sixty-five days by train, steamboat, horseback, and foot. His assignment from the Soviet government was to evaluate the potential. of the oil and gas industry. He was as willing to criticize Soviet industrial practices as he had been to criticize tsarist ones. In particular, he castigated what he called the "gusher psychology" of the administrators of the oil industry, who wanted to drill wells that would produce spectacularly and impress the top officials in Moscow, meanwhile ignoring large amounts of coal and gas that were often more economical sources of energy.

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