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East Germany is focus of history professor's new book

Dec. 12, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The history of East Germany through its production and use of plastic is the focus of a book published in November by Western Michigan University's Dr. Eli Rubin.

"Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic" (University of North Carolina Press, 2008) investigates connections between communism and the retooled postwar chemical industry as they relate to the consumer population of East Germany. To East Germans, Rubin says, plastic was a high-technology material, a symbol of socialism's scientific and economic superiority over capitalism. Plastic goods were also of a particularly special quality, not to be thrown away like products of the wasteful West.

The book argues that East Germany was neither a totalitarian state nor a niche society but a society shaped by unique economic and political circumstances interacting with the concerns of ordinary citizens. It is available online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com and University of North Carolina Press.

Rubin is a visiting scholar at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung and fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin. He is assistant professor of history at WMU.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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