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How did rock music and other products of Western culture come to pervade youth culture in Brezhnev-era Dniepropetrovsk, a Ukrainian city essentially closed to outsiders and heavily policed by the KGB? In Rock and Roll in the Rocket City, Sergei I. Zhuk assesses the impact of Westernization on the city’s youth, examining the degree to which the consumption of Western music, movies, and literature ultimately challenged the ideological control maintained by state officials. One among many of his stories is how the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar led Dniepropetrovsk's young people to embrace not just one, but two Soviet taboos: rock music and Christianity.
This book is the first historical study—in any language—of the everyday lives of Soviet urban youth during the Brezhnev era. A longtime student and resident of Dniepropetrovsk, Zhuk began research for this project in the 1990s. Weaving together diaries, interviews, oral histories, and KGB and party archival documents, he provides a vivid account of how Soviet cultural repression and unrest during the Brezhnev period laid the groundwork for a resurgent Ukrainian nationalism in the 1980s. In so doing, he demonstrates the influence of Western cultural consumption on the formation of a post-Soviet national identity.