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Hammer and Silicon
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    Hammer and Silicon
    • Online ISBN: 9781108120302
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Book description

This deeply personal book tells the untold story of the significant contributions of technical professionals from the former Soviet Union to the US innovation economy, particularly in the sectors of software, social media, biotechnology, and medicine. Drawing upon in-depth interviews, it channels the voices and stories of more than 150 professionals who emigrated from 11 of the 15 former Soviet republics between the 1970s and 2015, and who currently work in the innovation hubs of Silicon Valley and Boston/Cambridge. Using the social science theories of institutions, imprinting, and identity, the authors analyze the political, social, economic, and educational forces that have characterized Soviet immigration over the past 40 years, showing how the particularities of the Soviet context may have benefited or challenged interviewees' work and social lives. The resulting mosaic of perspectives provides valuable insight into the impact of immigration on US economic development, specifically in high technology and innovation.


‘Hammer and Silicon is a wonderful book that deserves a wide audience. Puffer, McCarthy, and Satinsky have produced an insightful, fascinating account of the many contributions to the US economy made by immigrants from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states. The story of this diaspora is long overdue. Puffer, McCarthy, and Satinsky tell this story with great nuance and care. Basing their account on more than 150 interview subjects – each with his or her own compelling journey – the authors uncover the tremendous variety of these contributions and provide a useful framework for organizing that variety. Everyone interested in immigration and business, in Russia and the other post-Soviet states, or in the missed opportunities that will result from a more restrictive US approach to attracting talent from around the world will find this a compelling read.'

Rawi E. Abdelal - Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, Massachusetts and Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management, Harvard Business School

‘The story of the contributions made by professional immigrants from the Soviet Union and their families is often overlooked when thinking about innovation in the US economy over the past half-century. As Puffer, McCarthy and Satinsky demonstrate, this lacuna should be filled. Their book, Hammer and Silicon, represents an important step towards getting the story the attention it deserves.'

Blair A. Ruble - Vice President for Programs and Director of the Urban Sustainability Laboratory, Woodrow Wilson Center

‘When the authors gave their report at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, I said they were doing 'important work'. Having now fully read the book, I would like to add underline, boldface, asterisk, and exclamation point to that sentence. I was deeply impressed by the book. I hope it will get the broad readership that it deserves, especially at this time of the questioning of the value of immigration to the US. But I would like to return to my gratitude to them for writing this book. There is nothing like it out there. I thank Puffer, McCarthy and Satinsky for their insightful, important contribution.’

Loren Graham - Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University

'I have started reading Hammer and Silicon and really enjoy finding deeply personal interviews that illuminate the universal human experience. It is fascinating how the authors have transformed the stories of families into a profound and sometimes moral narrative on searching the balance on émigrés' fragile hold on the past. For me, this read is like a tour de force that illuminates all that is lost, and found in a new country, new identity, new language. I have kept reading it. Thanks for the wonderful and inspiring book.'

Svitlana Malykhina - Ph.D., Head of the Russian Language Program, Boston University

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