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Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union Paperback – August 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: How Information Ended the Soviet Union
  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; 1st Elephant paperback ed edition (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566630991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566630993
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,237,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What did the people know, and when did they know it? Probing these questions, Shane--who from 1988 spent 39 months as the Baltimore Sun 's Russian bureau chief--shows how information technology doomed the Bolshevik experiment. In a system that withheld even local street maps and phone books and distributed material to its apparatchiks only on a need-to-know basis, Gorbachev's loosening of information controls ultimately destroyed the government he set out to reform, stresses the author. Although the events he relates are familiar, Shane's perspective is fresh and instructive. In his discussion of economic reforms, for example, he relates the populace's anger over market-driven prices to the disinformation disseminated about subsidized costs in the former U.S.S.R. But it was the revelations of the extent of the Soviet terror, Shane argues, that returned historical memory to a people who had accepted lies as truth. The populace rejected Gorbachev's cost-benefit contention that collectivization, industrialization and military victory counterbalanced Stalinism. About the current chaos in Russia, Shane simply concludes that information told people of their predicament, but didn't solve it.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The former Moscow correspondent of the Baltimore Sun looks at the role of information in bringing down the Soviet regime and finds that loosened restrictions on the press and the worldwide revolution in information technology probably had more to do with communism's downfall than the personalities of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Rich in human interest details, his analysis shows how information control in the form of phony prices and statistics had so endangered the Soviet economy as to make even the KGB a proponent of glasnost--that is, until liberalization of the press led to an information explosion and fatally undermined the Communist myth. Shane covers the process in Soviet literature, film, music, TV, and even stand-up comedy, as well as journalism. Some key events, like Chernobyl, are missing, but otherwise this highly readable volume is exemplary for putting the story into a historical framework while skillfully conveying the drama of its unfolding. For Soviet studies and larger public international affairs collections.
- Robert Decker, Palo Alto, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Scott Shane's "Dismantling Utopia" is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary Russia. David Remnick (Lenin's Tomb) called it "A critical book [written] with grace, sympathy and intelligence." I can't improve upon that assessment. I do think Shane is one of the United States' best journalists, and could make any subject interesting reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have lived in Russia for the past three years and am a personal friend of Andre Mironoff. I have taught Human Rights in Russian Universities, and have had Andre as a guest lecturer in my classe.
I recommend with out reservation reading this book to have a better understanding of life that still exists in modern Russia. There are more paradoxes than solutions to the complexities existing in Russia's difficult transition. I found Scott Shane's book to give a better understanding to the paradoxes existing today than did David Remnicks "Lenin's Toumb". Shane skillfully and accurately identified the power of informtion in the Soviet Union's collapse, the paradox being, the lack of coodinated information desemination in Russia today being a major barrier to reform.
Andrei is still pursuing Human Rights in Russia, and many others like him are vital to keeping the foundation of reform alive----that is a civil society with an appreciation of the importance of recognizing Human Rights of its citizens.
This book also has a great potential not in classes relating to Russia's current transition, but to Human Rights classe in general...The theoretical aspects are grounded into a practical reality for a reader of Shane's book.
To any reader,,,the importance of media in our modern society is underscored by this account. This book is an excellent gift to share with friends, It also allows readers to understand the importance of supporting reform in Russia
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Hooper on August 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow. What an interesting book. Scott Shane was in the right spot and had the right skills to interpret the demise of a great empire, the Soviet Union. We don't have the luxury to run controlled trials in society, but sometimes they happen for us. The Soviet Union was one of history's biggest experiments. As we now know, it failed miserably. If we can't learn lessons from such a colossal failure, we aren't very good students of history and human behavior. The lesson from Scott Shane, that gives the book its subtitle, is that information can set us free. The lesson I draw is that governments should serve the people, not visa versa.

Charles L. Hooper, coauthor Making Great Decisions in Business and Life
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Huff on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Author Scott Shane produced this work in those giddy post-Perestroika days, when the world was still aglow over the "promise of reform" led by the "Russian democrats" with Peoples' Hero Yeltsin at the helm. The halos have dimmed and rusted considerably then. But the book remains useful as a period example of American attitudes, presumptions, and arrogance.

It is, as one would expect, chock-full of cold war anti-communism whose cliched stereotypes not even familiarity with Russian languange and everday life seem to mellow - such as the Lubiyanka seving as the terror scene of the most sweeping violations of human rights in history, per Mr. Shane. Considering the butchery and barbarity perpetrated around the world since 1917 that statement is one of many fatuous remarks one must endure to get at the book's more solid accounting of the rise of the "information wars" of the USSR's last days.

Of course the old USSR survived as long as it did by isolating its people from contact not only with the outside world, but their own past; a topography where information flowed in underground streams often dangerous to the intruder. This, as much as physical coercion,underpinned its autocracy. The Second Revolution of 1991 occurred for the same reason as the First: Russia's sarcophagus was opened in a rush of fresh air, its mummified contents crumbling on contact. Yet those who *really* wanted to pursue and accept the risks - like Solzhenitsyn - could mine these depths even if forbidden to display their results. Contrast this with the shameful behavior of the Western "free press," that uncritically bazoos arrant government nonsense like Iraqi WMD, as brazenly as Pravda ever could have.

As one reviewer remarked, it was only natural for a journalist like Mr.
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