|From Newspeak to Cyberspeak. A History of Soviet
Cybernetics, by Slava Gerovitch, MIT Press, 2002, 369 pp., $37.95, ISBN 0-262-07232-7.
Gerovitch (MIT; Russian Academy of Sciences) examines the development of Soviet cybernetics from the post-WW II era until the 1970s. He traces the striking transformation of cybernetics from a persecuted scientific specialty under Stalin to a popular and fashionable trend during the Khrushchev "thaw," and shows that by the 1970s the Soviet bureaucracy had adopted cybernetics to support their hold on power. The author concludes that Soviet cybernetics was not merely a scientific specialty but became a social movement for radical reform in both science and the larger society. The advocates of cybernetics saw computer simulations as a universal method of problem solving and as an objective and truthful language, which was opposed to Soviet ideological language, often called "newspeak." Gerovitch lucidly analyzes scientific discourse, demonstrating how Stalinist-era newspeak blended with the cyberspeak of the Khrushchev thaw, eventually producing "cybernewspeak." This challenging but valuable treatment of the interaction of science and society in Soviet Russia is highly recommended for graduate students and faculty.
-- N. M. Brooks, New Mexico State University
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries 40, no. 5 (January 2003): 881-882.