Synopses & Reviews
Western interpretations of the Cold War--both realist and neoconservative--have erred by exaggerating either the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness, argues Vladislav Zubok. Explaining the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the twentieth century.
Using recently declassified Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, diaries, and taped conversations, among other sources, Zubok explores the origins of the superpowers' confrontation under Stalin, Khrushchev's contradictory and counterproductive attempts to ease tensions, the surprising story of Brezhnev's passion for detente, and Gorbachev's destruction of the Soviet superpower as the by-product of his hasty steps to end the Cold War and to reform the Soviet Union. The first work in English to cover the entire Cold War from the Soviet side, A Failed Empire provides a history different from those written by the Western victors.
In this widely praised book, Vladislav Zubok argues that Western interpretations of the Cold War have erred by exaggerating either the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness. Explaining the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the twentieth century. Using recently declassified Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, diaries, and taped conversations, among other sources, Zubok offers the first work in English to cover the entire Cold War from the Soviet side. A Failed Empire provides a history quite different from those written by the Western victors. In a new preface for this edition, the author adds to our understanding of today's events in Russia, including who the new players are and how their policies will affect the state of the world in the twenty-first century.
"This book is the best history we have of the Soviet side of the cold war. Far more than a survey, Zubok's analysis is based on cutting-edge historical scholarship. He makes use of the most recently available sources and brings to their interpretation an unusually sharp mind."
-- William Taubman, Amherst College
"An impressively documented history of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War, and a revealing look at the motives that guided key decision makers within the Kremlin. . . . Should be required reading for anyone interested in the Cold War or post@-1945 European history."
"Fluently and authoritatively told."
International History Review
"Zubok has been prominent amongst those reassessing Soviet foreign policy through the newly available primary sources. . . . [A Failed Empire
] extends the story to the end of the Cold War and provides an excellent overview of the whole period."
-- International Journal
A Washington Post Book World Best of 2008 selection
"Make[s] use of significant new primary sources but also offer[s] a more inclusive approach with respect to the considerations shaping policy on both sides."
-- American Historical Review
"An excellent overview of Soviet foreign policy and a forceful explanation of why Communism collapsed, centering on Gorbachev's mistakes and misjudgments."
--O. A. Westad, author of The Global Cold War
"Impressive. . . . A standard work."
"A fascinating and truly insightful study of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. . . . A valuable resource in understanding not only the history of the Soviet Union but the 20th century as a whole."
-- WHRW News
"A significant contribution to a field that has long been dominated by West-centric analyses. . . . Highly recommended."
"This challenging account is perhaps the most complete and compelling yet written of the Soviet side of the Cold War."
-- Virginia Quarterly
"Ranks as the new standard work on the Soviet Union's Cold War--for scholars and students alike. . . . An excellent combination of old and new, offering both a synthetic interpretation of Soviet foreign policy in the latter half of the twentieth century and fresh new material to reconceptualize the factors behind that policy. . . . An important book [and] a standout."
-- Journal of American History
About the Author
Vladislav M. Zubok is associate professor of history at Temple University. He is coauthor of Anti-Americanism in Russia: From Stalin to Putin and Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev.
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