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Katherine Lebow. *Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-1956*. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2013. xiv, 233. Map. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. $45.00, cloth. Reviewed by Brian Porter-Szűcs for *Canadian Slavonic Papers*. Commissioned by Mark Conliffe Katherine Lebow’s new book on the history of *Nowa Huta *exemplifies why this is such an exciting time to be a historian of Poland. *Unfinished Utopia *is an interdisciplinary masterpiece, combining methods and insights from history, anthropology, sociology, literary analysis, film studies, and more. Even more important, Lebow does not so much polemicize with older understandings of Stalinism as step outside them altogether. Since the late 1990s a number of scholars have been chipping away at the Cold War dichotomies and the nation-centered narratives that once dominated writing about Poland, but with *Unfinished Utopia* we can see the next stage: the construction of a new framework that will help us move forward. Instead of a straight-forward picture of Stalinist oppression and coercion, we see here all the confusion, chaos, hardship, success, every-day resistance, violence, accommodation, frustration, and above all excitement that characterized those early postwar years. But this is not just a microhistory that repeats the historian’s old refrain, “it’s more complicated than that.” Lebow argues that an understanding of the world of Stalinist-era Nowa Huta allows us to see how a very real sense of egalitarian idealism emerged at that time—both in spite of and because of the communists. As she insightfully observes, “Participation in Nowa Huta’s construction ‘made’ ideology, just as much as ideology ‘made’ Nowa Huta” (page 7). The rhetoric of communism is evident enough, but equally obvious from Lebow’s presentation are the ways in which people appropriated that vocabulary and those ideas for their own ends. New migrants from the countryside found opportunities in Nowa Huta (as in Poland’s other massive postwar construction and re-construction projects) that would have once been unimaginable, and despite all the adversity of the early 1950s they gained a sense of both personal and collective agency. They built something that really was quite impressive, despite all its flaws (which are well accounted for in Lebow’s unapologetic and unvarnished presentation), and out of that experience came a self-confidence that would manifest itself repeatedly over the coming decades. “Having the most to gain from Stalinist industrialization,” Lebow writes about these peasant migrants, “many had responded enthusiastically to the Stalinist emphasis on active citizenship through labor. Thus, Stalinist political culture reinforced desires for civic inclusion, while the structures and rhythms of urban and factory life offered new social solidarities and mechanisms for self-organization” (p. 177). This sense of citizenship was in tension with both Stalinist authoritarianism and (less obviously) the paternalistic agenda of the Polish intelligentsia. Neither state authorities nor the anticommunist dissidents were ever entirely comfortable with the world of Nowa Huta: the former had to battle the Nowahucians (a delightful neologism from this book) on several occasions, sometimes quite literally, while the latter looked on from their Kraków cafés with some discomfort about working class refusal to adhere to “acceptable” cultural norms and aspirations. Andrzej Wajda’s classic film *Man of Marble* is a framing devise for this book, but we learn that the real Mateusz Birkut (a bricklayer named Piotr Ożański) was in fact a somewhat unappealing character who drank too much and was viewed by peers as an opportunist and a careerist. This is a nice metaphor for the broader tension between the intelligentsia and the actual Polish working class. Yet Lebow also shows why that tension eased in the 1980s, as Nowa Huta emerged as one of the most determined centers of anticommunist dissent. This was not because of intelligentsia outreach, but because the working class solidarities and the sense of enfranchisement nurtured (but of course unrealized) during the Stalinist era never went away. By focusing on the actual lived experiences of Poles during what we think of as a dark period of oppression (1948-1956), Lebow shows us not only that the darkness was much more colorful than we thought, but that it set the foundation for the labor activism that toppled the communists four decades later. Brian Porter-Szűcs University of Michigan --