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The Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991 Paperback – April 28, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0582505995 ISBN-10: 0582505992 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Why did the Soviet Union collapse in 1991?

The collapse of the Soviet Union has widely been seen as the result of the arms race and Cold War, and the failure of the Soviet side to keep pace with new technology. This book argues that the disintegration was mainly a result of two interrelated factors: the rise of the Soviet national republics, and the manipulation of the new Russian presidency by Boris Yeltsin in what became a direct power struggle between Yeltsin and the Soviet leader, Gorbachev.

Written in a clear and accessible manner, the book provides:

  • an explanation of how the national question came to dominate Soviet politics by 1990-1
  • analysis of the economic crisis that occurred in the late 1980¿s
  • a chapter devoted to the year 1991, from the referendum to reform the Soviet Union to the unforeseen dissolution of the country by December
  • a discussion of the personalities of and political confrontation between the two key statesman: Gorbachev and Yeltsin

Also containing a Chronology, Glossary and Who¿s Who of key figures, The Collapse of the Soviet Union is essential reading for students of twentieth century European history.


David R. Marples is Professor of History at the University of Alberta.

About the Author

David R. Marples is Professor of History at the University of Alberta.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582505992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582505995
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,037,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Peripatetic Reader on June 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book has one purpose and one purpose only: To discuss the reasons why the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Marples' book is devoted nearly exclusively to the analysis of how the Soviet Union crumbled and fell. In rendering his explanation the author sacrifices what could have been a more lively historical account. Historical narrative is kept to a minimum, events are described with a broad brush, and the style can be at times academic and dry. At other times, the author could describe with excruciating detail specific events which hastened the demise of Soviet Russia. For example, when the author described the infighting between Gorbachev and Yeltsin or when he chronicled the long, tortuous efforts to federalize the separate nation-states of the Soviet Union, the reader could get lost in the detailed narrative. Other reasons get short shrift. But there is no better book which explains the reasons for the demise of the Soviet Union.

The collapse of the Soviet empire holds a special fascination to American readers, because it has entered the popular mythology. According to that mythology, Ronald Reagan was responsible for the downfall of the empire by his tough policies. Yes, the author points out, but there were plenty of other factors which hastened that end:

* The Coal Miner's Strike of 1989 - 1990. This strike spread like wildfire and expressed not only the dissatisfaction of the coal minor's but reflected the general malaise which existed in Soviet society at the time.

* Chernobyl. This, of course, was the famous meltdown of the nuclear reactor located in the Ukraine. Despite initial efforts of the government to downplay the significance, or even existence, of a problem, the Soviet government afterwards would never be the same.
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The Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991
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