5 Jun, 2008 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests delve into the dark world of genetics under Joseph Stalin in discussing the career of Trofim Lysenko. In 1928, as America lurched towards the Wall Street Crash, Joseph Stalin revealed his master plan - nature was to be conquered by science, Russia to be made brutally, glitteringly modern and the world transformed by communist endeavour.Into the heart of this vision stepped Trofim Lysenko, a self-taught geneticist who promised to turn Russian wasteland into a grain-laden Garden of Eden. Today, Lysenko is a byword for fraud but in Stalin’s Russia his outlandish ideas about genetic inheritance and evolution became law. They reveal a world of science distorted by ideology, where ideas were literally a matter of life and death. To disagree with Lysenko risked the gulag and yet he destroyed Soviet Agriculture and damaged, perhaps irreparably, the Soviet Union’s capacity to fight and win the Cold War.

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  • Robert Service 2 episodes
    Professor of Russian History at the University of Oxford
  • Steve Jones 22 episodes
    Professor of Genetics at University College London
  • Catherine Merridale No other episodes
    Professor of Contemporary History at Queen Mary, University of London

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Auto-category: 570.92 (Genetics and evolution - Biography)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1928, as America heads towards the Wall Street crash, Joseph Stalin reveals his master plan.