The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union

Article excerpt

William E. Watson. The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union. Greenwood Press Guides to Historic Events of the Twentieth Century. Randall M. Miller, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. xx, 175 pp. Chronology. Glossary. Annotated Bibliography. Index. $39.95, cloth.

Greenwood Press's Guides to Historic Events of the Twentieth Century series are designed to serve as student research resources on specific historical topics. William E. Watson's The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union follows the established format of the series, offering five historical essays on topics relating to the collapse of the Soviet Union, a chronology of events from 1917 to October 1997, biographical profiles of fifteen Soviet political figures, twenty-two documents on the topic at large, a glossary, two maps, and an annotated bibliography of English-language books and videos.

Watson's five essays address various aspects of the end of communism in the Soviet Union. He first offers a narrative overview that outlines, in broad terms, the collapse of Communism and the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. His next three chapters expand upon three themes of the first chapter: the evolution of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika policies; the Soviet imperial legacy and the costs of the Afghan War, and the rise of nationalism as a factor in the fall of the Soviet Union. The fifth chapter discusses post-Soviet Russia and explores Boris Yeltsin's attempts to reform the political system in Russia in the post-Soviet period.

Watson's biographical section offers brief descriptive essays on fifteen figures involved in the end of the Soviet Union: Abel G. Aganbegyan, Nina A. Andreeva, Yuri V. Andropov, Leonid I. Brezhnev, Konstantin U. Chernenko, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Vladimir A. Kryuchkov, Yegor K. Ligachev, Boris K. Pugo, Stanislav S. Shatalin, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, Gennady I. Yanaev, Dmitri T. Yazov, Boris N. Yeltsin, Gennady A. Zyuganov

The "Primary Document" section includes a host of pertinent documents that will be of interest to students. It opens with a selection from Gorbachev's Perestroika and includes a brief excerpt on the official Soviet silence on the Afghan War from Roy Medvedev and Giulietto Chiesa's Time of Change. …