The question of the relationship between the Party and the State is crucial for understanding Soviet political system. Jonathan Harris goes to the heart of the matter by examining two principal views about the Communist Party’s role in Soviet society during the late 1930s and 1940s. Drawing on a meticulous analysis of the main party publications during this period, the author reconstructs the main battle lines between Georgii Malenkov and Andrei Zhdanov, the two antagonists of the book.
The book provides a very detailed and extensive analysis of the debates about Party's role in Soviet system as it appeared in the official press. However, without a much needed discussion of the 1948 reform of the Party apparatus and use of archival sources, there are few arguments which were not already present in the original article by Jonathan Harris published in 1976.