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Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects Paperback – June 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0865716063 ISBN-10: 0865716064

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Editorial Reviews


.Reinventing Collapse< examines the circumstances of the demise of the Soviet superpower and offers clear insights into how we might prepare for coming events. This challenging yet inspiring work is a must-read for anyone concerned about energy, geopolitics, international relations, and life in a post-Peak Oil world.-The A Word
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late eighties and mid-nineties. He is an engineer with a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716063
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

228 of 240 people found the following review helpful By Matthew I. Stein on May 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
As an MIT engineer (BSME MIT, 1978) and Author of When Technology Fails, I have read over a hundred books over the past two years, but Dimitri Orlov's "Reinventing Collapse" is the one that haunts me. Like many Americans, I felt quite smug when the Soviet Union collapsed. At the time, it appeared to be proof that the western world's way of running its businesses and governments was indeed superior to communism, and that the "free market" would soon deliver oppressed peoples all over the world from the clutches of the remaining totalitarian regimes.

Orlov's analysis, gained through personally experiencing the Soviet collapse, shows us that this collapse was more a factor of economic problems caused by a crash in oil revenues than by the Regan/Breshnev arms race that was credited by so many westerners for fomenting this collapse. When the oil-glut of the 1980's caused the price of oil to fall radically, the Soviet income from their inefficient state run petroleum industries crashed (it basically cost them about as much to pump and refine their oil as the export price per barrel), and the result was a cash flow crunch that could not sustain the rest of their state-run economy.

Now that oil prices have shot past the $100 a barrel mark, the tables have turned. Russia has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's number one oil producer, and the same oil exports that caused the Soviet regime's cash flow problem when prices were extremely low, is now making the new Russian economy cash-rich. America is seeing the devaluation of our dollar, brought on primarily due to a negative cash flow of billions of dollars a day for petroleum product imports and military ventures to protect our access to the supply of oil in foreign countries (Iraq, etc.
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95 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Reiner on May 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dmitry Orlov observed the collapse of the Soviet Union first hand during the early 1990s and based on his experience there believes America will be following down the same, sad path sooner rather than later. In this book, he details the many surprising ways that the current United States mirrors many aspects of Soviet life. Orlov believes that one of the main reasons that the Soviet system eventually collpased was because average people couldn't maintain their standard of living. Sound familiar? Frighteningly, Orlov found the Soviet Union to be much better prepared for collpase than America will be. At least, Russians owned their own homes and had public transportation. They weren't stuck far away in suburbia with no stores or services nearby.

Throughout this book Orlov uses scientific precision to knock down one myth after another about American life. He is very funny in mocking many of the silliest and stupidest aspects of American life. This book doesn't lay out a blueprint for how to survive the collpase, because Orlov himself makes plain that he doesn't pretend to know exatly how it will happen, but it does give some useful tips for how to prepare mentally and physically. The book is only 160 pages and I think you'll be so drawn in by it that you'll finish it in one evening just like I did. I guarantee it will be an evening well spent.
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99 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Charles Hugh Smith on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dmitri Orlov has written an entertaining and thought-provoking comparison of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the post-oil end-game here in the U.S. By his own account, "entertaining and thought-provoking" were his goals for the book, and he has succeeded very admirably. I can recommend the book wholeheartedly, even as I respectfully disagree with some of his conclusions.

1. The collapse of the USSR was a political act; the USA is facing a resource-depletion-financial crisis. Now a financial collapse (K-Wave "winter," or the repudiation of all debts, public and private) certainly could lead to political collapse, but that is by no means set in stone.

The cultural and structural differences between the USSR and the USA are significant, and if Orlov had been an anthropologist his book might have drawn somewhat different distinctions. His primary thesis is that the Soviet Union was actually better prepared to weather collapse than the U.S., but I think he missed this critical difference: Russia and the other constituent states of the former USSR were resource-rich. Once they got their politcal house in order, they had immense resources to aid their financial recovery.

2. The Soviet Union was not a nation of immigrants; the U.S. is and has been since its inception. Even the Native Americans came from somewhere else, albeit a long time ago (though 12,000 years is merely a blink in geological time). Now on the surface immigration is driven by a number of things: hunger, poverty, desire for religious freedom, etc. But fundamentally it is a form of natural selection.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn L. Baker on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
The old normal is that life will go on just like before. The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same Rather than attempting to undertake the Herculean task of mitigating the unmitigatable-attempting to stop the world and point it in a different direction-it seems far better to turn inward and work to transform yourself into someone who might stand a chance, given the world's assumed trajectory. Much of this transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. Some if it involves acquiring new skills and a different set of habits. Some of it is even physiological, changing one's body to prepare it for a life that has far fewer creature comforts and conveniences, while requiring far more physical labor.

These words from Pages 125 and 126 of Dmitry Orlov's Re-Inventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects leapt out at me as perhaps the most definitive in his marvelous new book in which Dmitry illumines the collapse of the American empire, now well underway, with his insights from living through the collapse of the Soviet Union.

By way of background, I will be using his first name throughout this review because although I've only met him once, he feels like an old friend. I first heard of Dmitry several years ago when I became a subscriber to From The Wilderness where I was captivated by his article series "Post-Soviet Lessons For A Post-American Century." Later in 2007, Dmitry wrote an exclusive article for my website entitled "Collapse And Its Discontent." I was then honored and humbled by his request for an endorsement of Re-Inventing Collapse and immediately requested a review copy from his publisher, New Society.
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