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Released Date: 2001
In 1991, the world looked in amazement at the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as Stephen Kotkin asserts in his concise, uncompromising history, this downfall was neither sudden nor unexpected but rather inevitable.
Combining historical and geopolitical analysis with an absorbing narrative, Kotkin draws upon extensive research, including memoirs of dozens of insiders and senior figures. He illuminates the factors that led to the demise of Communism and the USSR, putting the collapse in the context of the global economic changes from the 1970s to the present day, examining for example why the advent of Siberian oil had profound effects on the Soviet Union's raison d'etre. Kotkin also provides vivid portraits of key personalities. Using recently released archive materials, for example, he paints a new picture of Gorbachev's rise to General Secretary. Further, we see Gorbachev, the virtuoso tactician and resolutely committed reformer, "flabbergasted by the fact that his socialist renewal was leading to the system's liquidation"--and more or less going along with it. Here, too, is Boris Yeltsin, full of the theatrics and "ham-handed populism" that especially aggravated Gorbachev. Finally, Kotkin creates a compelling profile of the "stable mess" that is post-Soviet Russia and he reminds us, with chilling immediacy, of what could not have been predicted--that the world's largest police state, with several million troops, a doomsday arsenal, and an appalling record of violence, would liquidate itself with barely a whimper.
At once authoritative and provocative, Armageddon Averted illuminates the collapse of the Soviet Union, revealing how "principled restraint and scheming self-interest brought a deadly system to meek dissolution."
Author: Stephen Kotkin
Released Date: 2001
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