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The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin

Edited by: Sergei S. Demidov Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Translated by Roger Cooke
Available Formats:
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4704-2608-8
Product Code: HMATH/43
List Price: $59.00 MAA Member Price:$53.10
AMS Member Price: $47.20 Electronic ISBN: 978-1-4704-2936-2 Product Code: HMATH/43.E List Price:$59.00
MAA Member Price: $53.10 AMS Member Price:$47.20
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List Price: $88.50 MAA Member Price:$79.65
AMS Member Price: $70.80 Click above image for expanded view The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin Edited by: Sergei S. Demidov Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia Translated by Roger Cooke Available Formats:  Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4704-2608-8 Product Code: HMATH/43  List Price:$59.00 MAA Member Price: $53.10 AMS Member Price:$47.20
 Electronic ISBN: 978-1-4704-2936-2 Product Code: HMATH/43.E
 List Price: $59.00 MAA Member Price:$53.10 AMS Member Price: $47.20 Bundle Print and Electronic Formats and Save! This product is available for purchase as a bundle. Purchasing as a bundle enables you to save on the electronic version.  List Price:$88.50 MAA Member Price: $79.65 AMS Member Price:$70.80
• Book Details

History of Mathematics
Volume: 432016; 416 pp
MSC: Primary 01;

In the summer of 1936, a time of ongoing political purges in the USSR, Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin was charged with plagiarism, academic dishonesty and other “anti-Soviet” activities in the pages of Pravda. Luzin, an eminent mathematician and leader of the Soviet school of mathematics, found himself at the center of two simultaneous conflicts—one, a generational rift between rising young mathematicians and the pre-revolutionary academic establishment, and the other, Stalin's ongoing campaign to “Sovietize” science in the USSR, placing it in the service of his regime and ending the practice of publication in Western journals.

Ultimately, for reasons that may not be fully understood even now, Luzin was not declared an “enemy of the people”, which would have led to his immediate arrest. After making a statement of public repentance, he escaped with a relatively mild reprimand, humiliated and frightened, but alive. Nevertheless, his case can be viewed as a precursor to those of other scholars, such as Kravchuck and Vavilov, who would later fall victim to Stalin's purges.

This is the first English translation of a Russian volume that appeared in 2001. It contains an introductory section, written by Sergei Demidov, the leading expert in the history of Soviet mathematics, which examines the Luzin case and describes the Soviet mathematical scene of the period. Also included are annotated transcripts of the five meetings of the Academy of Sciences commission charged with investigating the accusations against Luzin, and a selection of contemporary articles from the Soviet press. Together these documents form a fascinating picture of one of the darkest episodes in the history of Soviet mathematics.

• Chapters
• Introduction
• The case of academician Luzin in the collective memory of the scientific community
• Minutes of the meetings of the USSR Academy of Sciences Commission in the case of academician Luzin
• Minutes, 7 July
• Minutes, 9 July
• Minutes, 11 July
• Minutes, 13 July
• Minutes, 15 July
• Commentaries on the minutes of the meetings of the USSR Academy of Sciences Commission in the case of academician Luzin
• Introduction to commentaries
• Commentary, 7 July 1936
• Commentary, 9 July 1936
• Commentary, 11 July 1936
• Commentary, 13 July 1936
• Commentary, 15 July 1936
• Literature
• Appendices
• Introduction to appendices
• A pleasant disillusionment
• Enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Letter from L. Z. Mekhlis, editor of Pravda, to the Central Committee, 3 July 1936
• Resolution concerning the articles “Response to academician Luzin” and “Enemies wearing a Soviet mask” in Pravda
• Draft of the proposal of the special session of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 4 July 1936
• Letter from P. L. Kapitsa to Molotov, 6 July 1936
• Excerpt from the minutes of the Presidum meeting of 7 July 1936
• Letters from V. I. Vernadskii and N. V. Nasonov to the Academy of Sciences Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences and to academicians A. E. Fersman and N. P. Gorbunov in support of academician Luzin
• Letter from academician N. N. Luzin to the Central Committee of the Communist Party 7 July 1936
• Resolution of the General Assembly of Scientists of the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics and Institutes of Mathematics, Mechanics, and Astronomy at Moscow University
• Letter from Luzin to an undetermined addressee, 11 July 1936
• Enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Letter from L. Z. Mekhlis, editor of Pravda, to Stalin and Molotov, 14 July 1936
• The enemy exposed
• Luzin’s statement to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences, 14 July 1936
• The Belarus scholars on the exposed enemy Luzin
• The scholarly community condemns enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Note accompanying the draft of the findings of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences regarding academician N. N. Luzin, 25 July 1936
• Conclusion of the Commission
• On academician N. N. Luzin. Findings of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 5 August 1936
• To rid academia of Luzinism
• Glossary of Soviet terms and people

• Reviews

• It is wonderful to have this book available in English translation. “The Case of Academician Luzin” is a highly significant event in the history of Soviet mathematics; with its presentation of original sources, together with ample commentary, this book will now convey the full import of this event to a new readership.

Christopher Hollings, Oxford University, author of “Mathematics across the Iron Curtain”
• The translation into English of “The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin” is an important contribution toward the understanding of the fate of a great mathematician in Stalin's time. We learn here the details of how he was judged in a political trial. I would like to immodestly suggest that reading this source together with Jean-Michel Kantor's and my recent book “Naming Infinity” will clarify an episode in both the history of mathematics and of the Soviet Union that has long mystified observers.

Loren Graham, Professor Emeritus of the history of science, MIT and Harvard
• Included within its 363 pages is an outline of the innovatory nature of Russian mathematics in the first 30 years of the 20th century. The core of the book consists of the minutes of the meetings of the five-day hearing during which Luzin was virtually fighting for his life. Indeed, the wealth of documentary evidence provided by the authors creates the impression that they have left no stone unturned in their quest to reveal the awful machinations that beset Nikolai Luzin in 1936. Read all about it in this gripping account of a wrongly persecuted mathematician.

P. N. Ruane, MAA
• Requests

Review Copy – for reviewers who would like to review an AMS book
Accessibility – to request an alternate format of an AMS title
Volume: 432016; 416 pp
MSC: Primary 01;

In the summer of 1936, a time of ongoing political purges in the USSR, Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin was charged with plagiarism, academic dishonesty and other “anti-Soviet” activities in the pages of Pravda. Luzin, an eminent mathematician and leader of the Soviet school of mathematics, found himself at the center of two simultaneous conflicts—one, a generational rift between rising young mathematicians and the pre-revolutionary academic establishment, and the other, Stalin's ongoing campaign to “Sovietize” science in the USSR, placing it in the service of his regime and ending the practice of publication in Western journals.

Ultimately, for reasons that may not be fully understood even now, Luzin was not declared an “enemy of the people”, which would have led to his immediate arrest. After making a statement of public repentance, he escaped with a relatively mild reprimand, humiliated and frightened, but alive. Nevertheless, his case can be viewed as a precursor to those of other scholars, such as Kravchuck and Vavilov, who would later fall victim to Stalin's purges.

This is the first English translation of a Russian volume that appeared in 2001. It contains an introductory section, written by Sergei Demidov, the leading expert in the history of Soviet mathematics, which examines the Luzin case and describes the Soviet mathematical scene of the period. Also included are annotated transcripts of the five meetings of the Academy of Sciences commission charged with investigating the accusations against Luzin, and a selection of contemporary articles from the Soviet press. Together these documents form a fascinating picture of one of the darkest episodes in the history of Soviet mathematics.

• Chapters
• Introduction
• The case of academician Luzin in the collective memory of the scientific community
• Minutes of the meetings of the USSR Academy of Sciences Commission in the case of academician Luzin
• Minutes, 7 July
• Minutes, 9 July
• Minutes, 11 July
• Minutes, 13 July
• Minutes, 15 July
• Commentaries on the minutes of the meetings of the USSR Academy of Sciences Commission in the case of academician Luzin
• Introduction to commentaries
• Commentary, 7 July 1936
• Commentary, 9 July 1936
• Commentary, 11 July 1936
• Commentary, 13 July 1936
• Commentary, 15 July 1936
• Literature
• Appendices
• Introduction to appendices
• A pleasant disillusionment
• Enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Letter from L. Z. Mekhlis, editor of Pravda, to the Central Committee, 3 July 1936
• Resolution concerning the articles “Response to academician Luzin” and “Enemies wearing a Soviet mask” in Pravda
• Draft of the proposal of the special session of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 4 July 1936
• Letter from P. L. Kapitsa to Molotov, 6 July 1936
• Excerpt from the minutes of the Presidum meeting of 7 July 1936
• Letters from V. I. Vernadskii and N. V. Nasonov to the Academy of Sciences Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences and to academicians A. E. Fersman and N. P. Gorbunov in support of academician Luzin
• Letter from academician N. N. Luzin to the Central Committee of the Communist Party 7 July 1936
• Resolution of the General Assembly of Scientists of the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics and Institutes of Mathematics, Mechanics, and Astronomy at Moscow University
• Letter from Luzin to an undetermined addressee, 11 July 1936
• Enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Letter from L. Z. Mekhlis, editor of Pravda, to Stalin and Molotov, 14 July 1936
• The enemy exposed
• Luzin’s statement to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences, 14 July 1936
• The Belarus scholars on the exposed enemy Luzin
• The scholarly community condemns enemies wearing a Soviet mask
• Note accompanying the draft of the findings of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences regarding academician N. N. Luzin, 25 July 1936
• Conclusion of the Commission
• On academician N. N. Luzin. Findings of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, 5 August 1936
• To rid academia of Luzinism
• Glossary of Soviet terms and people
• It is wonderful to have this book available in English translation. “The Case of Academician Luzin” is a highly significant event in the history of Soviet mathematics; with its presentation of original sources, together with ample commentary, this book will now convey the full import of this event to a new readership.

Christopher Hollings, Oxford University, author of “Mathematics across the Iron Curtain”
• The translation into English of “The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin” is an important contribution toward the understanding of the fate of a great mathematician in Stalin's time. We learn here the details of how he was judged in a political trial. I would like to immodestly suggest that reading this source together with Jean-Michel Kantor's and my recent book “Naming Infinity” will clarify an episode in both the history of mathematics and of the Soviet Union that has long mystified observers.

Loren Graham, Professor Emeritus of the history of science, MIT and Harvard
• Included within its 363 pages is an outline of the innovatory nature of Russian mathematics in the first 30 years of the 20th century. The core of the book consists of the minutes of the meetings of the five-day hearing during which Luzin was virtually fighting for his life. Indeed, the wealth of documentary evidence provided by the authors creates the impression that they have left no stone unturned in their quest to reveal the awful machinations that beset Nikolai Luzin in 1936. Read all about it in this gripping account of a wrongly persecuted mathematician.

P. N. Ruane, MAA
Review Copy – for reviewers who would like to review an AMS book
Accessibility – to request an alternate format of an AMS title
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