Ben Smithgall

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Software and data at Spotify. Previously with U.S. Digital Service and Code for America.

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Red Plenty

By Francis Spufford

Finished reading on November 19, 2018

Tremendously interesting and often funny, this form-bending history/fiction describes the years when it seemed as thought the Soviet Union was poised to plan its way past the United States and create a world of plenty for its people. Spufford does this work by splitting up the book into a number of sections that are all introduced by non-fiction, and then having fictional or quasi-fictional scenes that demonstrate the ideas laid out in the introductory sections.

The book, all in all, is quite sad! It’s a tale about mass delusion followed immediately by mass disillusion. Spufford, though, brings this story to life with well-considered descriptions and interesting turns of phrase.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. The Soviet Union is a fascinating place, and this book is a wonderful, if fictionalized, version of events that played out and the ways that people thought about them.

★★★★★