Ben Smithgall

Welcome to the web blog

Bit pusher at Spotify. Previously Interactive News at the New York Times, U.S. Digital Service, and Code for America.





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.