on December 15, 2004
Strayer's book is more than proposing one particular thesis as to why the USSR is no longer in existance. His book is more about using the events that happened between 1985 and 1991 (while keeping in mind the context of 1917-1985) to look at how a historian does his/her work. Rather than proposing one thesis and saying this is the reason for the collapse, Strayer examines a multitude of theses and discusses the pros and cons of each of them from a historians perspective.
I would recommend this book for two reasons, one if you want to know what events influenced the collapse of the USSR, this book does a good job (well documented too) of providing an overview of those events. From the rise of Gorbachev to the failed coup attempt. The second reason I would recommend this book is that from the perspective of a history teacher, Strayer gives an excellent opportunity to look at how historians analyze events and try to develop a thesis to fit those events. This book would serve as an excellent way to look at the historian's trade.
Overall, Strayer has given people several theses and the information to back those theses so that they can make up their own minds as to why the USSR is no longer around.
on July 22, 2011
I absolutely loved the book. It provides numbers, analysis, objective political and financial data and a very balanced presentation of the whole situation, in depth of time. You don't need to be a financial or political specialist to "get" the book, but some background does help.
It's 4 stars for me.
on July 29, 2001
Robert Strayer does a wonderful job of communicating the changes in the Soviet Union, and the Communist Bloc, and foreshadwoing the eventual downfall of the role of communism. Strayer sets up the thesis of the book with a fairly in depth history of the Soviet Union following WWII, broken down by Presidents of the USSR. It is interesting to follow the major changes which occurred mainly at the powerful hands of the Soviet leaders during the Cold War. It is also very interesting to see such a silent, yet inevitably deadly, political pattern emerging -- hindsight is 20/20. This book is a great look at one of the most massive political changes in the 20th century.
on May 21, 2000
How did the Communists keep everyone under their thumb for 70 years? Actually, the trick was to let a tier in society have more absolute power than all the tsars put together & let them get away with murder, repression & deportation by the political millions. The demise of the USSR illustrates a large historical pattern - the process by which all human societies change, sometimes slow & unobtrusive, sometimes with the speed & impact of revolution. Good questions & some curious answers. Bit of a slog! Well worth the read, however! ....................