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  1. #1

    Dhéanfadh mé mo chuile dhícheall chun a bheith ar meisce, go scanreoidh sé an saol mór
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    A History Of The USSR - Recommendations Sought

    It’s possibly a subject far too broad in scope but are there any history books on the Soviet Union from its creation to its collapse that OTF can recommend?

  2. #2

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    Pretty sure the answer is no. There's Richard Pipes' History of Communism, which I believe is just history of communism in the SovUn. Don't think it got terribly good reviews, but it would cover everything you want in one place. There's Archie Brown's Rise and Fall of Communism, which is somewhat broader (that is, it takes in Europe and China) but at least contains what you are looking for.

    But Soviet history is really periodized by regime (e.g. Lenin, Stalin, Khruschev, etc) and while there are lots of good books about each regime, there are not many good books that cross regimes. Though come to think of it, not sure anyone's really written a great book about the Brezhnev regime.
    Last edited by Anton Gramscescu; 14-12-2017 at 08:38.

  3. #3
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    The Andropov and Chernenko ones are a bit short. Got through both in one afternoon.

  4. #4

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    One to avoid, if you would be offended by the glossing over of mass-murder of millions by starvation and gulag ordeal and the general following of the official Soviet Communist Party line would be the "History of the USSR" by this fellow-travelling British Communist total and utter cunt:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Rothstein

    I used to have a copy, as it was a Pelican book I think (they really should have known better) and I picked it up in a second hand bookshop in my youth without knowing what a piece of pro-Stalinist crap it was.

  5. #5

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    Thanks all. I went for The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire: Political Leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev in the end.

  6. #6
    the new biography of Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman has got good reviews. I really enjoyed his book on Kruschev

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nefertiti2 View Post
    the new biography of Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman has got good reviews. I really enjoyed his book on Kruschev
    It's gotten a good, if qualified, review from Jonathan Steele.

  8. #8
    Thanks for that Reg. Was looking at it in the bookshop the other day. Big,impressive, won't be able to read it for a while.

  9. #9

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    Got Gorbachev for Xmas, finished it by New Year's Eve. I'd echo Steele's comments about a lack of explanation of just how fucked the USSR was, and what his actual policy proposals were, whenmeasured against the scale of the challenges. It's great on foreign policy, mind.

    That said, it doesn't really give an insight into the critical issues of when and how Gorbachev became a convinced reformer. Taubman suggests that like all half-sentient beings, he knew that things needed to change, but aside form making noises here and there, he's seen as a younger man for the job, rather than a reformer by the politburo. Maybe that was the case, in which case the issue of whether Gorbachev had been biding his time and keeping his true views to himself, or came to understand the need for reform more belatedly. It does seem to suggest that Gorbachev was lucky, in that being a party secretary in the holiday regions, he was able to mix with a lot of high-ups as they paid him courtesy visits when visiting their dachas.

    What strikes you was how much time he spent politicking and obsessing over speeches he would be giving to this or that congress; rather than the time he spent administering things. Partly that's becasue the intertwined nature of administration with the party itself made the state itself like an giant ship who's speed and direction were near impossible to change. It reminded me of the sense that as a system and a society, they had one chance to reform after Stalinism, which they flunked, partly in response to the weariness of the Stalinists and desire for a quieter life than the reforms Krushchev was trying to unleash; from then on, it was a matter of when, not if, though that's not how it ever looked to them much, and not to their Cold war opponents.

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