Synopses & Reviews
The first state in history to be based explicitly on atheism, the Soviet Union endowed itself with the attributes of God. In this book, David Satter shows through individual stories what it meant to construct an entire state on the basis of a false idea, how people were forced to act out this fictitious reality, and the tragic human cost of the Soviet attempt to remake reality by force.
Feared and respected as one of the world's two great superpowers, the Soviet Union throughout the final twenty years of its life was a model of state-organized delusion. As David Satter shows in powerful detail, the leaders of the Kremlin found that when their carefully constricted facade fell apart in the late 1980s, there was nothing to prop up the crumbling ruins. Satter's book demonstrates compellingly how the Soviet people were forced to live a gigantic lie. During nearly two decades of reporting for the Financial Times and Reader's Digest, he interviewed Soviet citizens all across the vast country, not just the dissidents and party apparatchiks in Moscow but ordinary men and women. Traveling with him from coal mines and farms to bureaucratic reception halls to the nightmarish wards of punitive psychiatric hospitals to railroad stations where victims of the Communist system set up camp, the reader witnesses how an entire state was constituted on the basis of a fraudulent version of reality. In the Soviet Union, lying - at the grocery and the factory as well as the government office - was universal and obligatory, and Westerners were seldom able to penetrate the perplexing mosaic of wishful thinking and denial that camouflaged a brutal regime.