Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire Hardcover – January 21, 1997

31 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$13.73 $3.11

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Nonfiction
Browse books by award-winning historians and biographers, including "The Pope and Mussolini" by David I. Kertzer. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ever wonder what it would be like to witness a series of historical turning points? Just ask Michael Dobbs--or read his book. As a longtime foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, Dobbs personally witnessed many of the great events in the final decade of the Iron Curtain, from the 1980 Warsaw strikes to Boris Yeltsen's heroic defiance of a Communist coup in 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev is a dominant figure on these pages, but his role in the Cold War endgame is enigmatic. Dobbs calls him "a strange amalgam of genius and incompetence, idealism and egotism, naive and cunning." The verdict on Dobbs is much clearer: his journalism will instruct future historians.

From Publishers Weekly

Washington Post correspondent Dobbs's firsthand account of the unraveling of the Soviet monolith is a remarkable tour de force, a pulsating human drama that resembles a Russian novel, full of biting ironies, driven personalities, momentous confrontations. The author, Moscow bureau chief from 1988 to 1993, was the first Western journalist admitted to the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk during the 1980 strike led by Lech Walesa; eyewitness to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre, he covered a beat stretching from the brutal hothouse of Kremlin politics to freezing Romanian orphanages to labor camps in the Urals. Drawing on primary Soviet sources, including interviews and declassified archival documents, he unearths phenomena often overlooked by Western journalists, for example, the leaderless drift of the U.S.S.R. between 1974 and 1982 as Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev suffered a series of nervous breakdowns caused by arteriosclerosis of the brain, or how Gorbachev, "a master obfuscator and manipulator," used the state-run television network to establish a power base among the masses. Unfolding as a series of vignettes extending from the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan through Chernobyl to the wild scramble for property and riches following the collapse of Soviet communism, his epic chronicle charts the breakdown of a system that sidetracked the nation into decades of self-imposed isolation, waste and ideological conditioning.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 502 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (January 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679431799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679431794
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am, almost literally, a child of the Cold War. My diplomat parents whisked me off to Russia at the age of six weeks. As a child, I lived through the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the construction of the Berlin wall. As a reporter for the Washington Post, I witnessed the birth of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the hope and tragedy of Tiananmen Square, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the war in the former Yugoslavia.

When I first went to Russia in 1950, Stalin was at the height of his power. When I left, in 1993, communism had collapsed and the Red Flag no longer flew over the Kremlin. How and why this happened is the story of the "Cold War trilogy," from its origins in the aftermath of World War II (Six Months in 1945) to its peak, during the Cuban Missile Crisis (One Minute to Midnight), to the grand finale (Down with Big Brother).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!" - Nikita Khrushchev, November 17, 1956

In DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, author Michael Dobbs begins his narrative on December 26, 1979 as members of the Soviet Union's ruling Politburo gather to lay before Communist Party General Secretary Brezhnev the final plans for the invasion of Afghanistan. Dobbs ends his narrative at 7:00 PM on December 25, 1991, when General Secretary Gorbachev, in a television address broadcast worldwide, formally dissolved the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

It would, perhaps, be too much to expect that the author record all the facts of that 12-year period that related to the dissolution of the Soviet Empire; the resulting book would be huge. Rather, in 451 pages, Dobbs does a splendid job touching on the salient events in chronological order to yield an immensely readable and instructive work of popular history: the Soviet occupation of Kabul (12/79), Solidarity's strike in Gdansk's Lenin Shipyard (8/80), the suppression of Solidarity (12/81), Brezhnev's death (11/82), the shoot down of KAL 007 (9/83), Gorbachev's accesion as General Secretary (3/85), the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Geneva (11/85), Chernobyl (4/86), the first use of Stinger missiles against Soviet aircraft by Afghan mujahedin (9/86), Mathias Rust's farcical penetration of Soviet airspace (5/87), the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan (2/89), the Tbilisi riots (4/89), the resurrection of Solidarity (6/89), the fall of Berlin Wall and the revolt in Prague (11/89), the downfall of Romania's Ceausescu (12/89), Yeltsin's elevation to power (5/90), the Soviet invasion of Vilnius, Lithuania (1/91), and the abortive KGB coup against Gorbachev (8/91).
Read more ›
5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Philip E. Orbanes on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book. It makes history come alive through the people, big and small, who caused Communism to collapse from within the Spviet Union. It is easy to feel you are there as the pages replay the key events during the 80's and early 90's. I was most impressed by the author's ability to craft this epic into a gripping, moving story. Well done!!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By unraveler on February 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a compelling and vivid description of the events that led to the toatal disintegration of the Soviet Empire, from the collapse of its East European satellite states to the impolosion of the USSR itself. Dobbs was an eyewitness to many events described in the book, and he writes accurately and convincingly. The beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire is traced to the final years of Brezhnev's rule, with its stagnation, over the hill, senile politicians, and the tragic decision to invade Afghanistan.
Because this is a very rich journalistic account, the reder should be prepared to deal with a myriad of Eastern European proper names that occur throughout the book. Still, this is a very sophisticated, historically-informed journalism, and if you want to know about the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dalton C. Rocha on March 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book, translated to portuguese, here in Brazil.It's a good book about this subject.It describes the soviet fall.There's failures in this book?Yes.It has no enough details about soviet fall.Even so, thid book is good and fun to read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Reynolds on October 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A very readable book; made some excellent points. One thing Dobbs ignores completely, though, was the actual breaking down of the Berlin Wall by people wielding hammers and other instruments. The Wall had already been opened, yes, but the sight of people demolishing it, flashed around the world on TV, was of immense symbolic significance and it accordingly accelerated the downfall of Communism. Also, here's some food for thought: Andropov wasn't picked to lead the USSR as a "caretaker"; his death was untimely. Everyone had expected him to live for decades. Likewise, John Paul I died an untimely death after only two weeks as Pope. How might the history Dobbs describes have unfolded differently with Andropov in the Kremlin and an Italian Pope in the Vatican throughout the 1980's? Without John Paul II's protective influence, could Solidarity have survived to lead Poland into the 1990s? Maybe not....
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tyrone O. Langager on February 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The single most complete and understandable text describing and defining the events of the Soviet downfall. Put in a chronological order that allows the reader to fully appreciate the events of those days. Even though the outcome in not a mystery

, the sequence of events and the internal chaos of Soviet life and government helps clear away many misunderstandings and myths of those days.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When the Soviet Union collapsed, it caught a lot of reporters, politicians and academics off guard. Certainly, there were problems there, but collapse? Hardly. The CIA's own estimates showed a reasonably strong economy, growth, and enough surplus to support Poland, Cuba, the GDR and other client states. Yuri Andropov, the new Premier, was a "progressive" who "liked Western jazz," the New York Times told us. Everything was moving along smoothly. And then in the course of a very few years, the Pope spoke out for the oppressed masses, the workers and the Gdansk shipyard revolted, the Berlin Wall opened up and the entire USSR collapsed. Analysts and pundits began to craft all sorts of stories to explain what happened. Chief among these was the Gorbachev-as-reformer story, in which an enlightened leader rises through the ranks and leads his nation into a new democratic world. A lot of people bought into this legend. But not Michael Dobbs.

Dobbs grew up behind the Iron Curtain, the son of career diplomats. He knew the people, the language, and the culture, and he was able to turn that experience into a long career as a journalist, reporting on the events that would shake the world. His familiarity with the Soviet world gave him an entree into this secretive society that few other journalists had, and he was able to dig out the details of every significant event that led to the eventual collapse of the USSR. His discussion of the succession of leaders includes details of debates and discussions between Politburo members that suggests he had sources buried deep within the Soviet hierarchy- and that he had better intelligence about their goings on than did a lot of Western intelligence services.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews