The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union

The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union

The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union

The Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union

Synopsis

Designed for student research, this one-stop resource contains a wealth of information, reference material, and analysis of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union. Combining narrative description, analytical essays, lengthy biographical profiles, and the text of key primary documents, Watson examines the reasons for the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and its ruling Communist party in 1991. Five essays provide a historical overview of the rise and fall of the Soviet brand of communism; the evolution of Gorbachev's perestroika reform policies; the costly Soviet imperial legacy and the ten-year Afghan war; nationalism and the dissolution of Soviet unity; and post-Soviet Russia under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin. Ready-reference features include: a timeline of key events; biographical profiles of 15 leaders involved in the decline and fall of Soviet communism; the text of 22 documents including writings by Gorbachev, Yeltsin and other key figures; a glossary of terms; and an annotatedbibliography of print and video materials. Photos and maps complement the text.

Excerpt

The essays and documents contained in this volume seek to explain the decline and fall of a superpower and its ruling party. For well over half a century the Soviet Union (1917-1991) was one of the most powerful empires in history. At its height, it consisted of 15 national republics spanning 13 time zones. The Soviet Union also possessed an external empire of client states in Europe (through the Warsaw Pact) and a number of overseas clients that were, to one degree or another, dependent on Soviet Communism for their survival. The Communist Party, its general secretary, and its Politburo determined the Soviet Union's political, economic, and military destiny for over seven decades. The reform of the system undertaken by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991) -- perestroika -- was intended to make the Soviet system profitable and popular. However, hard-line party opposition to the reform process led to the unsuccessful coup of August 1991 that hastened the demise of the party and the Soviet Union itself.

The search for ultimate causes of the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union is aided by substantial contemporary source material, written by proponents of reform as well as by opponents. In addition, there has already been considerable contemporary analysis of the event by other historians and political scientists. The narrative overview (Chapter 1) in this volume explains in broad terms the collapse of Communism, through the end of the Soviet government and its replacement by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Chapters 2-4 explore three important themes discussed in the overview: the evolution of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika reform policies; the costly Soviet imperial legacy and the 10- year Afghan War; and the rise of nationalism and the breakup of Soviet . . .

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