488 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 illus., notes, bibl., index
New Cold War History
The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev
2008 Marshall Shulman Book Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies
A Washington Post Book World Best of 2008 selection
Western interpretations of the Cold War--both realist and neoconservative--have erred by exaggerating either the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness, argues Vladislav Zubok. Explaining the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the twentieth century.
Using recently declassified Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, diaries, and taped conversations, among other sources, Zubok explores the origins of the superpowers' confrontation under Stalin, Khrushchev's contradictory and counterproductive attempts to ease tensions, the surprising story of Brezhnev's passion for détente, and Gorbachev's destruction of the Soviet superpower as the by-product of his hasty steps to end the Cold War and to reform the Soviet Union. The first work in English to cover the entire Cold War from the Soviet side, A Failed Empire provides a history different from those written by the Western victors.
“[A Failed Empire] draw[s] on abundant new primary sources to refine our understanding of the Cold War, turning it from a melodrama into a nuanced tragedy. . . . Rich in new information and fresh interpretation. Zubok reveals the full extent of Stalin's brutal post-World War II suppression of the Soviet People.”
--Washington Post Book World
“Make[s] use of significant new primary sources but also offer[s]a more inclusive approach with respect to the considerations shaping policy on both sides.”
--American Historical Review
"Ranks as the new standard work on the Soviet Union's Cold War--for scholars and students alike. . . . An excellent combination of old and new, offering both a synthetic interpretation of Soviet foreign policy in the latter half of the twentieth century and fresh new material to reconceptualize the factors behind that policy. . . . An important book [and] a standout."
--Journal of American History
"An excellent survey of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War, one which draws on a wide range of memoirs, secondary literature, and the still-patchy archival record."
"Fluently and authoritatively told."
--International History Review
"Zubok has been prominent amongst those reassessing Soviet foreign policy through the newly available primary sources. . . . [A Failed Empire] extends the story to the end of the Cold War and provides an excellent overview of the whole period."
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