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The Decline and Fall of Soviet Empire: Forty Years That Shook The World, From Stalin to Yeltsin Paperback – August 15, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (August 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312168160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312168162
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,141,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Empire is destined to become a classic. It is likely to be read and used for research far into the future by many generations...Masterfully written by a first-person eyewitness, one of the great reporters of his time." --Dan Rather

"Must reading for all who seek a clear picture of the Soviet period." --Malcolm Toon, former United States ambassador to Moscow

"Fred Coleman was not afraid to meet with the persecuted and write the truth about them...This is what makes his book significant." --Elena Bonner, Andrei Sakharov's widow

"This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand how painful it could be for a nation to part with its past." --Alexander Likhotal, chief spokesman for Mikhail Gorbachev

About the Author

Fred Coleman lives in France, where he is the European Correspondent of USA Today. He reported from Moscow between 1964 and 1995.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wes Ulm on March 27, 2001
Fred Coleman was a journalist who spent decades behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union, and this book collects his various observations and his policy interpretations on that experience and his concerns about the nation's future. It's rousing eyewitness history; Coleman's insights on the long-term damage done by Stalinism, and the immeasurable psychological harm it wrought in family after family, are rendered poignantly. His account on the transfer of power from Stalin to Brezhnev-- nearly involving a shootout-- was extraordinary and little-appreciated in the West. Coleman gives a Soviet perspective for what it was like to live under Khruschchev and Brezhnev, and indicates that the citizens of the country were often quite cynical and unhappy about their leadership, a perspective not often obtained. He notes that the USSR's economic quagmire was evident to Andropov in the early 80's but hidden from most other policymakers (and from the U.S.), and he expounds in wonderful detail on the Afghan War and Chernobyl, including interviews with Soviet citizens that convey the trauma of those fiascoes and how important they were in precipitating the USSR's fall in 1991. Finally, Coleman's discourse on USSR-China relations is outstanding. It was little appreciated in the West how sour relations were between these two nations, despite both being led by Communist apparatchiks. Coleman unveils the ancient conflict between the two countries, the border disputes, the bitter cultural and economic altercations and the competition for leadership of the Communist party. This was rarely appreciated in the U.S.
My main cavil pertains to the way the author proclaims and supports his book's primary argument: that lack of U.S.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Telford on August 31, 2001
All in all, I was pretty disappointed by this book. The author's role as a journalist provided some unique insights into Soviet like and culture, but his writing ability appeared to be somewhat limited.
As stated in other reviews, the author constantly repeats the same points in every chapter. Also, I think the author is placing too much blame on the actions of Western nation in not doing more to contain the Soviet Union. In hindsight, they should have definitely have done more, but I when you are threatened with nuclear war, it is understandable to "walk on eggshells" with your foreign policy.
This book contains many interesting points and anecdotes, but is a tedious read.
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By Mr Jazz De Cou on April 16, 2012
Verified Purchase
Le Vésinet

I discovered this book only recently and have been wondering since then how
I could have missed it for so long.

I was interested for years in the Soviet Union and read a lot about it. I had
studied Russian and made a few trips there. I was not a scholar, only
a layman with a conviction that I ought to have some knowledge about the
country. I did not want the knowledge just to accumulate more furniture in
my head. I wanted it in order to have some UNDERSTANDING.

My knowledge -- such as it was -- was just so many unconnected dots. Fred Cole-
man connected the dots for me. Maybe he would not agree that I have arrived
at correct conclusions from what he has written.

What he did was to enable me to see the country as its own people see it and
to understand the problems that its leaders of whatever politician persuasion have
historically faced. I had never really understood how Russia's size has been perhaps
more a liability than an asset. I had not understood its vulnerability.

The country could never feel secure. The country's insecurity was fueled by repeated
invasions. Millions of people had died in wars, millions had died of famine, etcetera.

I appreciated very much the tributes Coleman makes to the Russian people. I realized
as never before that what I unconsciously missed in reading history was the absence of
human faces. I found history abstract. Fred Coleman knew the facts but he also knew
many of the people described in the book. He was right there where the events were
happening in the period covered by the book.
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