The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire

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9780761520573: The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire

For more than 80 years, the Soviet Empire cast an ever-lengthening shadow across the face of the world. Lenin's ruthless legacy consumed Eastern Europe and toppled governments on virtually every continent. Yet at the moment when the Empire appeared to have reached its zenith, it collapsed like a house of cards.
"Brian Crozier's definitive history of the Soviet Empire is a chilling account of an ideology that haunted our century."
— Henry Kissinger

In this seminal work, the eminent British writer and historian Brian Crozier tells the brutal history of the Soviet Empire—its birth, life, and sudden death. The book begins at the beginning, in 1917, when the oversized dreams of Lenin and the happenstance of events conspired to change the course of history. In meticulous detail, Crozier follows the Soviet conquests across Europe and into Asia, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere. He uses recently declassified information from Soviet archives to add texture and depth to familiar parts of the story—the betrayal at Yalta, the terror of Stalin, the tragedy of Hungary, the split with China, the false hope of Prague Spring, the rise of Castro, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the crumbling of the Berlin Wall. Revealed along the way is the dark underside of a regime whose march toward supremacy resulted in the loss of tens of millions of lives. The book concludes with reflections on the extraordinary disintegration of Lenin's utopia and the seemingly endless chaos left in its wake.
Provocative, comprehensive, and majestic in scope, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire is the definitive account of history's most turbulent days.

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Review:

Many historians of the postwar period regard the 1983 American invasion of Grenada, a poor Caribbean island with a feckless Marxist government, as a misguided historical sideshow. English prime minister Margaret Thatcher did, too, remarking, "if you are going to pronounce a new law that whenever communism reigns against the will of the people ... the United States shall enter, then we are going to have really terrible wars in the world."

London-based historian and strategist Brian Crozier begs to differ. The invasion of Grenada marked the first time since the Russian Revolution of 1917, he writes, that "a Communist government in a sovereign state had been removed by an outside power's military force." Given the bloody effects of Communist rule around the world, Crozier suggests that outside intervention was not at all a bad thing, and he charts the growth of the Soviet state with apparent regret that someone did not put an end to it long before 1991, when the USSR disintegrated in the wake of an attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev.

Some readers may take issue with Crozier's right-of-center analysis and his support for such regimes as the dictatorship of the Chilean general Augusto Pinochet, but they will not easily fault his careful scholarship, supported by hundreds of pages of documents from Soviet archives, as he relates the tangled history of the Marxist-Leninist experiment. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Brian Crozier, the cofounder of London's Institute for the Study of Conflict, has been a writer and consultant on international affairs for over 50 years. The author of numerous historical works, including widely praised biographies on Franco, de Gaulle, and Chiang Kai-shek, since 1996 he has been a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace (Stanford University). Mr. Crozier resides in London.

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Brian Crozier
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