Cover image for Rethinking the Soviet collapse : sovietology, the death of communism and the new Russia
Rethinking the Soviet collapse : sovietology, the death of communism and the new Russia
Cox, Michael.
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Pinter, 1998.
Physical Description:
ix, 294 pages ; 25 cm
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Format :


Call Number
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DK266.A33 R48 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This text is informed by the view that part of the answer to the conundrum - Did we fail to anticipate the end of the Cold War? - lies in a dissection of the ways in which the USSR was theorized by its leading practitioners in the West.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Readers with a serious interest in what happened in the Soviet Union 10 years ago and what's been happening there ever since will relish the demanding, sometimes argumentative essays in this collection. Contributors from the full range of social science disciplines (economics, political science, history, and sociology), with academic positions at universities in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Canada, take on the nature of the end of the USSR, whether Sovietologists saw change coming (and if not, why not) and whether today's students of Russia and other nations of the former Soviet Union are any better able to understand this region that was for four decades "the other side" of the cold war. Inevitably, the political conflict is tapped, with both "left" and "right" viewpoints included. There are few easy answers in assessing either the former USSR or Western analysis of the Soviet government and economy. To its contributors' and editor's credit, this collection makes that complexity crystal clear. --Mary Carroll

Choice Review

In addition to the good fun of quoting the big names on the durability of the Soviet Union, this worthwhile collection of essays attempts to analyze why so many were so mistaken. Half of the authors are British; the targets are almost entirely American Sovietologists. The answers are several, ranging from being atheoretical to being too-theoretical, from ignoring Marx to ignoring Talcott Parsons. Robert Daniels even argues that they got it about right. Most, however, make a convincing case that Soviet-area specialists were firmly stuck in conventional wisdoms, paradigms, and assumptions and could not "think outside the box." The thrust of the book is Kuhnian, that knowledge of the Soviet system was so socially constructed that it departed from reality. Anyone who dared to predict the Soviet demise would not have been admitted into the profession. Having so misjudged the Soviet collapse, can we do any better on post-Soviet Russia? Several of the authors fear we can not. Western economic advice may have made things worse. Focused on abstractions, the work does not mention mundane but important elements such as the collapse of world oil prices and lack of a Russian commercial code. This provocative collection could be used in specialized courses on Soviet/Russian politics. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. G. Roskin; Lycoming College