Combining historical and geopolitical analysis with a riveting narrative, Kotkin draws upon extensive research to illuminate the factors that led to the demise of Communism and of the USSR. He traces large impersonal structural forces, such as the profound changes in the capitalist world after World War II, and paints vivid portraits of key Soviet personalities, revealing how “principled restraint and scheming self-interest brought a deadly system to meek dissolution.” With remarkable concision and restored suspense, 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. He also demonstrates that the Soviet collapse continued well after 1991, and presents an incisive profile of post-Soviet Russia up through the regime of Vladimir Putin. Authoritative and provocative.
"A triumph of the art of contemporary history. In fewer than 200 pages, Kotkin elucidates the implosion of the Soviet empire – the most important and startling series of international events of the past fifty years – and clearly spells out why, thanks almost entirely to the 'principal restraint' of the Soviet leadership, that collapse didn't result in a cataclysmic war, as all experts had long forecasted."
"Concise and persuasive. The mystery, for Kotkin, is not so much why the Soviet Union collapsed as why it did so with so little collateral damage."
"The clearest picture we have to date of the post-Soviet landscape."
“In one short volume, Kotkin provides the best account yet of the anatomy of the Soviet collapse. The book’s pithy and vivid prose will draw in the novice reader, while scattering plenty of tidbits for specialists to savor and ponder.”