Subverting the System

Subverting the System : Gorbachev's Reform of the Party's Apparat, 1986-1991

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Subverting the System deals with an issue of fundamental importance, namely the internal evolution of the regime in the final years of Soviet power. In particular the book examines the contradictory approaches taken by Gorbachev in relation to the role and organization of the Communist Party, contradictions that effectively paralyzed the party as a functioning political organization and that ultimately provoked a dynamic that led to the fall of the system in its entirety.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 152 x 230 x 17mm | 295g
  • Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0742526798
  • 9780742526792
  • 2,388,488

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Gorbachev's Campaign for "Political Work" Forward and Back, 1986-1987 Chapter 3 The 19th Conference of the CPSU and the Reform of the Party's Apparat, 1988 Chapter 4 The Impact of the Congress of Peoples Deputies: 1989 Chapter 5 Gorbachev's Growing Revisionism, 1989-1990 Chapter 6 Towards the 28th Congress of the CPSU, 1990 Chapter 7 The Revival of the Secretariat, 1990-1991 Chapter 8 From Orthodoxy to Reform, January-August 1991 Chapter 9 Conclusion
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Review quote

Perhaps the most satisfactory account that has yet appeared of what the Gorbachev reforms meant to those who were engaged in them at lower levels of the party structure. . . . Serious students of the CPSU will find themselves in its debt for some time to come. -- Stephen White, University of Glasgow * The Russian Review * You might have thought that there was little more to be said about the Gorbachev period, and about its ruling party in particular. Jonathan Harris's book suggests a rather different conclusion.... An illuminating essay on the dynamics of political change through the perspective of party officials who were responsible for implementing the Gorbachev reforms, but who all too often had little to guide them. -- Stephen White, University of Glasgow * The Russian Review * The collapse of the Soviet Union remains a matter of both great interest and of continuing research. Crucial to that collapse was the disintegration of the Communist Party, a process that is the focus of the book under review. Jonathan Harris seeks to explain the differing views among party functionaries about the course and desirability of reform of the party apparatus and its role....His reliance on close reading of the documents, often allowing them to talk for themselves, is a strength because it enables us to get a flavor of the arguments and a feel for the different positions that individuals adopted at various times.... An excellent addition to our understanding of elite attitudes to change during perestroika. -- Graeme Gill, University of Sydney * Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2005 Issue 7:3 * A useful contribution to the literature on that last, remarkable period of Soviet history which witnessed the dismantling of the communist system, a process which was largely completed more than two years before the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist. -- Archie Brown * Europe-Asia Studies * Subverting the System addresses an issue of fundamental importance, namely the internal evolution of the regime in the final years of Soviet power, and in particular the contradictory approach taken by Gorbachev in relation to the role and organization of the Communist Party. The author's exploration of Party materials and debates combined with a detailed reading of memoir literature and the party press results in crucial insights into the breakdown of Party rule. Many books have touched on these issues, but this is the first to tackle head on developments in the apparat and thus makes a significant and original contribution to the field. -- Richard Sakwa, University of Kent
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About Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris is professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh.
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