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On Christmas Day, 1991, President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation to declare an American victory in the Cold War: earlier that day Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned as the first and last Soviet president. The enshrining of that narrative, one in which the end of the Cold War was linked to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the triumph of democratic values overOn Christmas Day, 1991, President George H. W. Bush addressed the nation to declare an American victory in the Cold War: earlier that day Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned as the first and last Soviet president. The enshrining of that narrative, one in which the end of the Cold War was linked to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the triumph of democratic values over communism, took center stage in American public discourse immediately after Bush’s speech and has persisted for decades—with disastrous consequences for American standing in the world.As prize-winning historian Serhii Plokhy reveals in The Last Empire, the collapse of the Soviet Union was anything but the handiwork of the United States. On the contrary, American leaders dreaded the possibility that the Soviet Union—weakened by infighting and economic turmoil—might suddenly crumble, throwing all of Eurasia into chaos. Bush was firmly committed to supporting his ally and personal friend Gorbachev, and remained wary of nationalist or radical leaders such as recently elected Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Fearing what might happen to the large Soviet nuclear arsenal in the event of the union’s collapse, Bush stood by Gorbachev as he resisted the growing independence movements in Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasus. Plokhy’s detailed, authoritative account shows that it was only after the movement for independence of the republics had gained undeniable momentum on the eve of the Ukrainian vote for independence that fall that Bush finally abandoned Gorbachev to his fate.Drawing on recently declassified documents and original interviews with key participants, Plokhy presents a bold new interpretation of the Soviet Union’s final months and argues that the key to the Soviet collapse was the inability of the two largest Soviet republics, Russia and Ukraine, to agree on the continuing existence of a unified state. By attributing the Soviet collapse to the impact of American actions, US policy makers overrated their own capacities in toppling and rebuilding foreign regimes. Not only was the key American role in the demise of the Soviet Union a myth, but this misplaced belief has guided—and haunted—American foreign policy ever since....

Title : The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union
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ISBN : 9780465056965
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 520 Pages
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The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union Reviews

  • Patrick Blackburn
    2019-04-17 19:08

    Simply put, this is a stunning book. It's not every day an author is able to rewrite history, and do so credibly. When I read, on the inside cover, the following sentence: "...the collapse of the Soviet Union was anything but the handiwork of the United States," I feared that it was going to attempt to diminish the role the U.S. played. On the contrary. I have read about 20 books on the subject and this is one of the best accounts of US-Russia relations from 1980-present (Hoffman's "The Dead Hand" is another). After reading "The Last Empire," I have a greater appreciation of the actions George Bush (HW) took (and accomplished) during this time. The significant impact of Secretary of State George Schultz was revealing as well.Plokhy takes you right into private meetings all over the world during a six-month period in 1991. From the unbelievably tense meetings between Yeltsin and Gorbachev, to meetings by leaders of former Soviet states (namely Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus) about the nature of the role they will play in this new world, there is no shortage of intrigue in "The Last Empire".This book is not only for those who are interested in the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union. The timing, with what is currently happening in that part of the world this book, is perfect. The author is an expert on Ukranian affairs (he is director of the Ukranian Research Institute at Harvard University) and spends a lot of time discussing Ukraine's (significant) role in the breakup of the Soviet Union. He even spends time on Crimea, which makes this book as relevant today as it was 25 years ago, if not more so. After reading "The Last Empire," I feel like I have a much better understanding of what (Putin's) Russia is trying to do (which doesn't make it any less disturbing). Whether you are interested in 1991 Russia, 2014 Russia, or both, "The Last Empire" absolutely must be added to your library. You won't be sorry.

  • Mike
    2019-04-15 20:22

    “It wasn’t quite the fourth of July.”- John Stepanchuk, acting US consul in Kiev.Plokhy’s stated goal here is to dispute the narrative, which according to him is generally accepted in the west, that the United States ‘won’ the Cold War, arguing that the primary causes were internal to the Soviet Union- the crumbling economy, Gorbachev’s democratic reforms, the hatred that existed between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, etc. Whether or not the ‘triumphal’ narrative is particularly strong, or particularly widely believed, an attempt at clarification is generally a good thing.The irony of the aforementioned narrative, according to Plokhy, is that George H.W. Bush and most of those in his administration (with the exception, perhaps ominously, of Dick Cheney) were not unreservedly enthusiastic about the prospect of the Union’s collapse, one seemingly reasonable reason for this being the question of nuclear disarmament; there was also a general sense of hesitancy and caution about what would follow that collapse. Bush seems to have exercised this caution despite domestic pressure, for example from the Ukrainian diaspora in America (apparently large enough to be electorally significant), to act, to push Gorbachev to recognize Ukrainian independence. Plokhy, who is Ukrainian, refers in passing to H.W. Bush’s “Chicken Kiev” speech, in which he hedged on the issue of Ukrainian independence, as a “gaffe”- I’m not sure that it was, and I’m not sure that Plokhy’s book really supports the idea that it was, either. The book is notable for its focus on Ukraine and the Ukrainian independence movement. One thing that jumped out at me immediately is the way in which the current problems in Ukraine seem to have been foreshadowed. Yeltsin, upon the Union’s having more or less ceded central power to Russia, warned that “if any republic breaks off Union relations with Russia, then Russia has the right to raise the question of territorial claims.” When Yeltsin’s press secretary was asked to be more specific about which republics Yeltsin was addressing, the secretary mentioned parts of northern Kazakhstan, Abkhazia in Georgia, and the Crimea and Donbass in Ukraine. Yeltsin continued to threaten Ukraine with partitioning until the Ukrainian referendum, the result of which, according to Plokhy, was 90.32% in favor of independence (David Remnick wrote that it was “a few votes shy of 90 percent”). In the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts, now disputed territories, the results were 83% and 77%, in favor of independence. Even in Crimea, “more than 54% voted in favor.” Of course, this is not evidence that the ‘referendums’ that have been held in those areas during the past couple of years are illegitimate, even though they are. The Russian 'ark', as Plokhy says, was leaving the harbor, economically speaking, and one gets the sense that many Ukrainians, even in the east, saw their neighbor as a dead weight; but my (anecdotal, second-hand) understanding is that life in the 90s for the average Ukrainian was not any easier than for the average Russian, financially speaking.The US seemed to influence events inadvertently. Bush, for example, threatened to withhold economic assistance from the Union, economic assistance that the Union needed, if Gorbachev sent Soviet troops to crush resistance movements in the Baltics. When the central government displayed a disinclination to use force, the Baltics knew they could break away. It seems that the Bush administration understood that things could happen that way. But one of the points that Plokhy makes quite clear is that it wasn’t necessarily an advantage for the United States to have to deal with a splintering superpower, a potential “Yugoslavia with nukes.” Better, really, to deal with a relative moderate rendered somewhat complaisant, who could still maintain a level of control over the whole.There are a number of passages about Gorbachev ‘losing’ his struggle for power and relevancy with Yeltsin, and the indignities that Yeltsin later subjected Gorbachev to, that take on the tone of Greek tragedy. At one point Plokhy writes that “…he changed the world and his country for the better by his actions but failed to change himself.” I’m not really sure what that last part means, but Plokhy also summarizes Gorbachev’s achievements: “the end of the Cold War, the dismantling of the totalitarian system, the democratization of Soviet politics, and the opening of the country to the world.” Not damn bad, I would say. The writing in this book is kind of dry, and the dryness includes the occasional ‘hooks’ that seem out of place in a history book. One chapter, for example, begins with the sentence ‘He knew he was being followed.’ There are some grammar mistakes, and Plokhy repeatedly confuses the words ‘former’ and ‘latter.’ Plokhy is Ukrainian, and I found myself wondering throughout the book whether or not it was translated; there is no indication on the cover or the title page that it is. Then, in the acknowledgments section, I noticed that he thanks an editor for “Englishing” his prose. Grammar mistakes from a non-native speaker are entirely understandable, but it makes it seem like the book hasn’t been edited very thoroughly, and that perhaps it was rushed to publication in order to capitalize on the fact that Russia is back in the news. There is also a kind of awkward coda where Plokhy circles back to discrediting the narrative of American triumphalism, forgotten for hundreds of pages, and criticizing H.W. Bush for employing rhetoric to that effect as he began his re-election campaign in 1992. I think it’s kind of difficult to condemn Bush for simply taking rhetorical advantage of the situation (Bush allegedly even told Gorbachev, in private, “not to pay any attention to what he would say during the presidential campaign”), never mind that he lost the election anyway. Plokhy then links this triumphal narrative to a growing false sense that America needed to provide ‘moral clarity’ in and police other parts of the world, and therefore, to Bush II’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Of course, there is always this song by Kino, “Changes”, which according to a member of the Russian Duma was written by the CIA to encourage dissatisfaction among the people:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5xQf...

  • Richard
    2019-04-02 23:31

    This details the undoing of the Soviet Union, basically between July and December, 1991, in very clear and readable prose. I came to this book because, despite its being one of the great historic moments of the twentieth century (at least), I knew next to nothing about it or its major players.Gorbachev who had ended the Cold War in 1989 had unloosed the democratic demon, leading to elected parliaments in the republics that formed the Soviet Union. While he tried to maintain the central role of the Union and his own presidency, Yeltsin in Russia, and the Ukrainian and Belarus leaders, chosen by those freely elected parliaments, moved toward independence for their republics. In August, hard-liners had attempted to turn back the democratic movements and to re-establish Union control at the center, isolating Gorbachev, but, due in large part to Yeltsin, they failed.The US concerned itself with the nuclear issue as weaponry was placed in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; in order to avoid upsetting the status quo, the Bush (41) administration attempted to keep Gorbachev and the USSR in existence and succeeded longer than they might have otherwise.The Union was undone on 8 Dec 1991 when Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus opted for independence, later signing with the Islamic republics--all of them save the Baltics who had been given their independence from the USSR earlier and Georgia (which sent a representative) were signatories, and the Union was done. Gorbachev would give his resignation speech on 25 December and was treated shabbily by Yeltsin in the aftermath. The book offers much more in the way of specifics, interplay, and evolution of the stance of the republics.Plokhy rejects the US claim of "victory" as campaign rhetoric introduced by Bush in his comments after Gorbachev's resignation. The pope is never mentioned as an influence.What was/is very interesting is the role of Ukraine and its first president, Leonid Kravchuk. There was fear that the various republics would see ethnic strife as the Union lost power, and Ukraine has a large ethnic Russian population, but they voted in a majority for independence. Russia could not do without Ukraine, but Kravchuk was every bit Yeltsin's match, managing to get his way on a variety of issues. Reading this, however, one can understand Putin's desire to regain Russia's dominance in Ukraine but also in the other republics, perhaps recreating a Russian union in the image of the Czarist and Communist empires. A turn to the West, as Ukraine has done, can only be viewed from the Kremlin as intolerable.Besides Kravchuk, Secretary of State James Baker comes off very well.

  • Jerome
    2019-03-24 01:23

    A clear, well-researched, and well-written history of the fall of the Soviet Union. While the idea that the US caused the Soviet Union’s collapse has been discredited, this myth has suited both the Americans (who have used it for political gain) and the Russians (who have used it to dodge blame and accusations of incompetence) Despite these, Plokhy stresses the role played by pure chance.In a lively, readable narrative Plokhy covers all of the private negotiations within the Soviet government and between the leaders of the foreign states. He also emphasizes the often-forgotten desire of President Bush (both a an ally and personal friend of Gorbachev) and US policymakers to prevent a Soviet collapse, a prospect they compared to a “Yugoslavia with nukes.” Plokhy covers Gorbachev’s policies and how they led to the Soviet Union’s ultimate breakup, all the while stressing the contingency of events and especially the interaction between Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the opportunistic Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk. Plokhy discusses how Kravchuk’s decision to declare Ukraine’s independence led Yeltsin to do the same, and how the the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union led to the collapse of Gorbachev’s political career. Plokhy’s rendition of the August coup is particularly dramatic. Gorbachev comes off as idealistic and out of touch, Yeltsin as boorish and erratic.Plokhy credits the efforts of these republics with the Soviet Union’s collapse, and convincingly argues that the US was a bit player. Again, although frequently overlooked, US policy was to preserve the USSR’s integrity, since the US viewed Gorbachev as an ally and because of fears that a breakup could result in a regional war, and potentially a nuclear one. There was concern that a breakup could damage the nuclear agreements between the US and the USSR, and the immediate goal of the US was to extract as many Soviet diplomatic and arms-control concessions as possible before the Soviet Union collapsed. The ultimate breakup of the Soviet Union was not the result of US foreign policy, and Plokhy covers the often overlooked effect that Soviet electoral politics, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin rivalry, and Russian-Ukrainian relations had on the USSR’s fate. The Russians valued their alliance with the US since it gave them legitimacy. While not able to exercise much influence over events, Plokhy argues that the diplomacy of Bush and Baker was sensible and realistic. “In the final analysis,” Plokhy concludes, “George Bush’s policies contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union, but they often did so irrespective of the desires of his administration, or even contrary to them.” A few parts are a bit plodding and tedious, but Plokhy succeeds in telling a nuanced, insightful and human story.

  • Vadim
    2019-04-11 01:14

    Сергей Плохий, вовлекая в научный оборот рассекреченные архивы президента США Джорджа Буша-старшего, дает ответ на вопрос, кто погубил Советский Союз. Детальная реконструкция событий июля-декабря 1991 года показывает, что это не Ельцин, надеявшийся при возможности получить союзную корону, не Буш, положивший почти все яйца в корзину поддержки Горбачева и сохранения его во главе Союза, а растущее национальное движение, олицетворением которого можно считать Кравчука.Книга хороша не только общей картиной, но и деталями. В решающие моменты сначала у ГКЧП, а потом у Горбачева не оказывается ни одного верного полка, которые захотели бы им помочь. Иногда демократия работает очень окольными путями.

  • Matthew
    2019-04-13 21:19

    The Last Empire, by Serhii Plokhy, is a comprehensive and detailed account of the last few months of the Soviet Union. It starts with the August Coup and ends with Gorbachev's resignation in December. The book focuses on the Bush, Kravchuk, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin perspectives.This is a must read for those studying Soviet/Russian history and is an excellent start to studying both the fall of the USSR and Gorbachev's reign.

  • Timothy W Cox
    2019-04-15 18:15

    Factual and InterestingI was a young father and serving in the military when these events took place. I was surprised at how little I know of the events surrounding the end of the USSR, this book is well written and well researched, very enlightening.

  • Marv
    2019-04-11 23:02

    The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union answered a lot of my questions about the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Especially the role of the Bush Presidencies involvement in the future of Russia and the other countries of the Soviet Union.

  • Julian Douglass
    2019-04-14 00:04

    This is a good book and an unique perspective on the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, I think Mr. Plokhy's thesis is at best circumstantial. His claim is that the Soviet Union was falling not because of the financial difficulties and the archaic government system, but because of the independence movements in the nations that comprised of the Union, including Ukraine and Russia. But the way that he presents the evidence makes it seem as the the nations declared their independence form the Union because of all of the economic and political turmoil that was happening with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Also, the claim that Bush wanted to keep the Soviet Union alive is laughable at best. Bush wanted to make sure the countries didn't declare independence immediately and find a way to peacefully dissolve the union and not start a wave of ethnic cleansing, like the situation that happened in Chechnya in the early 90's. Good history, evidence loosely backs up the thesis.

  • Eric
    2019-04-06 21:21

    In short: this is an excellent book. Plokhy provides a masterful account of the Soviet Union's final days through regular first person accounts of the main players. Readers new to the subject and intimidated by its apparent complexity may rest easy as the "who, what, when, where, and why " questions are not answered merely once and then dropped, but are referenced constantly when considering each stage of events. The text takes the reader through the August Coup to Gorbachev's resignation speech on Christmas Day. Wisely, the author concentrates most of his attention on the power struggle between Gorbachev and Yeltsin and the other republican leaders in the aftermath of the coup attempt. American efforts, to influence events in the crumbling Union also receive a thorough treatment. My only criticisms relate to the author's consideration of the smaller republics and his final conclusions. Regarding the former, Plokhy does a superb job of discussing Russia, Ukraine, and, to a lesser extent, Kazakhstan. However, the other republics receive scant attention. Some, such as Georgia and Tajikistan, are mentioned only two or three times in passing. While the author may have regarded them as incidental, a bit more information would have been welcome.Secondly, the final conclusions regarding American actions in the past decade seem tacked-on. This is not to say they are invalid, but rather that they are introduced and settled far too quickly.Despite my complaints, this is a remarkable and worthwhile read.

  • Socraticgadfly
    2019-03-23 18:07

    Plokhy writes a very worth successor to his Yalta book, which I've also read.With a bit more time separation, unlike Gorbachev and other "principals" who have already written away, and academic detachment, but with the connection of Ukranian heritage and being born in the USSR, Plokhy is well-positioned for a book like this.And he doesn't disappoint.Much of his focus is on neither Gorbachev but Boris Yeltsin, but on Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk, as he pivots from being a Ukrainian Communist apparatchik to its leading politician, and pushing for the full break-up of the USSR.Plokhy also explains the nearly 40 years of Russian-Ukrainian dynamics within higher Soviet ranks, from the start of Khrushchev on. He then ties in Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev as the other key player, after the failure of the August 1991 coup, in the drama.Without this being an actual biography, one gets good snapshots of Yeltsin, Gorbachev and Kravchuk. My only regret is that there's not a bit more about the Central Asian dynamics, or maybe the Caucasian ones.On the American side, Plokhy spends somewhat less time. He could have gone another 40-50 pages with some dynamics, but he does note that US attitudes toward keeping the USSR alive were divided within the Bush administration, with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney being most hawkish about a breakup.With the recent Russian-Ukranian tensions, Plokhy also has ironically good timing, per what I have noted above. For more on Soviet ethnic dynamics, especially in western Ukraine, his Yalta book may be of some additional help.

  • Michael Samerdyke
    2019-03-26 20:12

    An interesting, if sometimes frustrating, book.Plokhy looks at the last six months of the USSR to see why this superpower fell apart. He makes the point (often overlooked) that the USA didn't exactly want the USSR to break up for fear of what would happen to its nuclear weapons. Fears of a "Yugoslav Civil War with nukes" were pretty strong at that time.Plokhy emphasizes the desire of Ukraine for independence as a key factor in breaking up the USSR. Indeed, it is fascinating reading his account of 1991 in light of what we are seeing in 2014. The basic tensions were there back then, but the different leadership brought about a different outcome.The frustrating part of the book is that much of it deals with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Gorbachev comes across as out of touch, and Yeltsin comes across as erratic. So while the writing is clearly on the wall, events are tugged this way and that by the clash of these two personalities.I'm definitely glad that I read this book. I think it is quite accessible to the general reader, and it should be read by those who think everything is due to Ronald Reagan.

  • Michael
    2019-04-04 01:26

    Plokhy's thesis is that the Soviet Union dissolved *despite* the US' attempt to keep it together in 1991, fearing the spread of nuclear weapons. The real forces breaking it apart were the Republics themselves, especially Yeltsin's Russia and Kravchuk's Ukraine. Without these two vital republics' willingness to keep the Soviet Union going, Plokhy makes a reasonable case that there was no possibility of that happening. While readable and not difficult to follow, Plokhy's style is not the same as other, more riveting accounts of Soviet history, such as Anne Applebaum's. Plokhy truly shines as an original researcher able to exploit primary sources from both the Bush I administration as well as Soviet, Russian and Ukrainian archives.

  • Erik
    2019-04-11 02:11

    This book helped answer a question I had long held: What events led up to the Soviet Union dissolving? In this book the author gives an acount that at times feels like you are retreading the same material as you peel back the layers of what was going on in the different republics. Additionally the book helps paint a picture of the history shaping the major actors involved in the process that led to the USSR leaving the international scene. Although the novel is highly informative the author does not consistently label what positions different officials held, especially the more involved secondary cast of political actors. Overall this book is great but the structure was a bit difficult at times.

  • Kidentropia
    2019-04-06 20:32

    This is an incredibly passionate, thorough description of the final months of the USSR. Its greatest triumph lies in the way Plokhy shows us two great historic and, in their own way, tragic figures: a Gorbachev who struggles to hold together an enormous, decaying machine which can no longer resist entropy, and a rising, relentless Yeltsin whose power hunger allows him to take advantage of a tremendous moment of transition. Anyone who ever wondered what happened behind the scenes as the death of the USSR and the rise of the Russian Federation took place, should go pick this book immediately. A political-historical page turner

  • Brandy
    2019-04-06 02:08

    Read this for a grad class. This book is just incredible. I can't wait for a second edition so that Plokhy can write an afterward or something to comment on the recent/current Ukrainian crisis. Just fascinating. Plokhy gives a blow by blow of the last four months of the Soviet Union, with a focus on Gorby, Yeltsin, Bush 1, and the maybe less obvious but massively important Kravchuk. My only issue was that I had to keep writing the date at the top of the page haha. Will absolutely keep this on my shelf for reference and will recommend to anyone who wants to understand what happened in 1991. So good.

  • Juan
    2019-04-18 22:15

    Excellent in-depth explanation of the events leading to the quick and remarkably peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union. Much attention is given to the perspective of the Soviet and some (albeit influential) U.S. leaders which held that the Soviet Union should be "propped up" and either preserved or broken apart very slowly in order to promote stability, in light of fears that a quick breakup would lead to regional conflict. This work allowed me to fill in many gaps in my knowledge about the sudden end of the Cold War.

  • Jesse
    2019-04-19 01:30

    A lucid, well-written, and fascinating account of the fall of the Soviet Union, Plokhy digs into the years of existing historical information on the topic, as well as newly discovered information, to illustrate the fall of the so-called "last empire". Plokhy finds a new angle on the story, attributing the dissolution of the Union not only to the U.S. and to the rivalry between Gorbachev and Yeltsin, but to the influence of independence-seeking republics like Ukraine, which the Union was desperate to keep. A must-read for history buffs.

  • Mike
    2019-03-23 23:10

    Well written and well researched account of the end of the Soviet Union. Focuses mainly on the last six months of 1991 with special emphasis on four main personalities: Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine, and George HW Bush of the USA. Interesting not only for the historical account but also for the insight it gives into many of the conflicts occurring in those areas today, particularly the current dispute between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. I recommend it highly.

  • Jennifer Martin
    2019-03-26 20:14

    Amazing account of the political circumstances and maneuvering leading to the collapse of the USSR.Interesting to see an account focusing on the Russian, Ukrainian and Soviet actors instead of American ones.Writing makes the events, whose outcomes we already know, completely gripping and suspenseful.A little bit of repetition in sections, almost as if the author had two versions of the same point and forgot to cut one out in the editing process.Still, very worthwhile read.

  • Thanakorn
    2019-04-21 02:03

    A very thorough description of how the Soviet Union 'allegedly' came to an end. In the light of the Ukrainian crisis when he wrote it, I believe that he gave too much importance to the Ukraine to the point that he attributed the collapse to the 'junior' republic of the USSR. Whilst impressive accounts of the Baltics and several Central Asian states were recalled, an overall image of the Caucasus was missing as well as some distant republics such as Turkmenistan or Tajikistan.

  • Jim Blessing
    2019-04-10 23:09

    This was an outstanding book on the last few months of the USSR. The book was very well written and explained all the factors leading to the end of the Union. It also discussed the concerns that Yeltsin had with the Ukraine controlling Crimea and eastern areas of Ukraine due to the significant and majority Russian population that lived there. That issue is obviously in the news today. Great read!

  • Bill Murray
    2019-03-23 00:09

    More recent but same as the book Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire: Straight up history. Not perhaps a beach read but my kind of book. The author adds material from the memoirs of the various players written in Russian that aren't readily available to the western reader. Rich.

  • Bill Murray
    2019-03-28 18:24

    Blow-by-blow, behind the scenes. Useful for those of us who followed events at the time but don't speak or read Russian because Plokhy has done the reading of officials' memoirs for us. I expect you have to have an active interest in the subject but I do, and I enjoyed remembering things that had grown a little hazy over time.

  • Andrew James
    2019-04-04 01:28

    A excellent book, well written and gives a clear insight into the last few months of the USSR and the key players involved. Would highly recommend as the style of writing makes it easy to digest the interplay between the different parties

  • Gareth
    2019-03-29 21:17

    A very thorough work covering the last few months of the USSR.Recommend for anyone who's interested in late-20th century history and/or has been following Russia's actions towards its smaller and weaker neighbours over past few years

  • Butch Byers
    2019-04-03 00:28

    an interesting look at the last year or two of former Soviet Union. Good insights as to Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the American politicians. Nazarbayev shows up prominently in a chapter or two.

  • Kevin Brantley
    2019-04-12 01:30

    Great foundation to understand the current Russian incursions into Crimea and Ukraine.

  • Elena
    2019-03-23 19:05

    Книга написана очень доходчиво и подробно. Помогает разобраться в непростых событиях, сопровождающих распад СССР, а также в предпосылках этого распада. Q:"СССР мог бы сохраниться (без Прибалтики), если бы Сталин пошел навстречу Рузвельту на Ялтинской конференции (1945) и оставил Львов Польше. Однако советский диктатор настоял на своем. А в конце 80-х годов именно этот город стал центром притяжения сторонников независимости и дерусификации."

  • Deb
    2019-04-08 22:25

    Lots of insight on how we got to the current situation -- especially with regard to Ukraine.