The Dream That Failed

The Dream That Failed : Reflections on the Soviet Union

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Description

This study attempts to answer those crucial questions intriguing historians and observers of the world scene, such as: why was there a revolution in Russia?; why did many in Russia and the West sincerely believe in communism?; why did most Sovietologists, diplomats and journalists fail to see the collapse?; why did the revolutionary regime last so long?; and when was the loss of faith first recognized? The author offers some speculations on the direction in which Russia is now heading, and gives particular attention to the role of nationalism.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 162.56 x 241.3 x 27.94mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195089782
  • 9780195089783

About Walter Laqueur

About the Author: Walter Laqueur as been hailed as "one of our most distinguished scholars of modern European history" (New York Times Book Review), and "one of the most remarkable men in the Western world working in the field,"(Journal of Modern History). His most recent study of the Russian extreme right was described as "a model to study Russia" (American Historical Review). Walter Laqueur was for twenty-five years the director of the Institute of Contemporary History and the Wiener Library in London. He is editor of the Journal of Contemporary History and serves as chairman of the International Research Council at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. His books, which have been translated into many languagues, include Black Hundred, Russia and Germany, The Long Road to Freedom, The Fate of the Revolution, Terrorism, and most recently an autobiography, Thursday's Child has Far to Go.show more

Review Text

An expert pathologist's report on the death of the Soviet Union. Laqueur (Black Hundred, 1993, etc.) is one of the most distinguished long-time students of the USSR's condition. Chairman of Washington, D.C.'s International Research Council, Center for Strategic and International Studies, he gives most of his attention to the failure of western academics and experts to understand what was going on in the Soviet Union, from the early years of the revolution to its uncannily swift demise. He reveals the full extent of the errors in the academic analysis of the years before 1989, when scholars argued that the USSR and the West were two converging systems that would meet without dramatic political change. The CIA, in line with academic economists, may have exaggerated the GNP of the Soviet Union more than tenfold; figures published by the Economist in 1992 suggest that Russia's gross domestic product may have been no larger than South Africa's. Similarly, almost to the end, some of the leading figures in American Soviet studies were writing about the stability of the USSR. Laqueur, who did not, notes dryly that "seldom, if ever, in intellectual history has a school of thought been proved so dramatically wrong by subsequent events." He finds the explanation for the misjudgment in ideological bias, cultural parochialism, and prevailing fashion. As to the causes of the fall, Laqueur believes that the Soviet leadership, economically overextended and increasingly conscious of the extent to which the Communist world lagged behind the West, was suffering an acute crisis of selfconfidence and lost its nerve. Perhaps, he suggests, in a particularly subtle insight, Gorbachev, misled by the failures of Western analysts, underestimated the extent of the dissatisfaction pervading the Soviet empire and overestimated his ability to reform the system. Not always well organized, but wide-ranging, learned, and full of the insights of a lifetime of scholarship. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

11 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 27% (3)
4 18% (2)
3 55% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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