The Dream that Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union

Paperback | September 1, 1993

byWalter LaqueurAs told byWalter Laqueur

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Walter Laqueur as been hailed as "one of our most distinguished scholars of modern European history" in the New York Times Book Review. Robert Byrnes, writing in the Journal of Modern History, called him "one of the most remarkable men in the Western world working in the field." Over a spanof three decades, in books ranging from Russia and Germany to the recent Black Hundred, he has won a reputation as a major writer and a provocative thinker. Now he turns his attention to the greatest enigma of our time: the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. In The Dream that Failed, Laqueur offers an authoritative assessment of the Soviet era--from the triumph of Lenin to the fall of Gorbachev. In the last three years, decades of conventional wisdom about the U.S.S.R. have been swept away, while a flood of evidence from Russian archives demandsnew thinking about old assumptions. Laqueur rises to the challenge with a critical inquiry conducted on a grand scale. He shows why the Bolsheviks won the struggle for power in 1917; how they captured the commitment of a young generation of Russians; why the idealism faded as Soviet power grew; howthe system ultimately collapsed; and why Western experts have been so wrong about the Communist state. Always thoughtful and incisive, Laqueur reflects on the early enthusiasm of foreign observers and Bolshevik revolutionaries--then takes a piercing look at the totalitarian nature of the SovietUnion. We see how Communist society stagnated during the 1960s and '70s, as the economy wobbled to the brink; we also see how Western observers, from academic experts to CIA analysts, made wildly optimistic estimates of Moscow's economic and political strength. Just weeks before the U.S.S.R.disappeared from the earth, scholars were confidently predicting the survival of the Soviet Union. But in underscoring the rot and repression, he also notes that the Communist state did not necessarily have to fall when it did, and he examines the many factors behind the collapse (the pressure fromReagan's Star Wars arms program, for instance, and ethnic nationalism). Some of these same problems, he finds, continue to shape the future of Russia and the other successor states. Only now, in the rubble of this lost empire, are we coming to grips with just how wrong our assumptions about the U.S.S.R. had been. In The Dream That Failed, an internationally renowned historian provides a new understanding of the Soviet experience, from the rise of Communism to its suddenfall. The result of years of research and reflection, it sheds fresh light on a central episode in our turbulent century.

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Walter Laqueur as been hailed as "one of our most distinguished scholars of modern European history" in the New York Times Book Review. Robert Byrnes, writing in the Journal of Modern History, called him "one of the most remarkable men in the Western world working in the field." Over a spanof three decades, in books ranging from Russi...

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" (Am...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 7.99 × 5.39 × 0.55 inPublished:September 1, 1993Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195102827

ISBN - 13:9780195102826

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Table of Contents

1. The Age of Enthusiasm2. 1917: The Russia We Lost3. The Fall of the Soviet Union4. Totalitarianism5. Sovietology: An Epitaph (I)6. Sovietology: An Epitaph (II)7. How Many Victims?8. The Nationalist Revival9. East Germany: A Case Study10. ConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The Dream That Failed...offers an impressive display of Laqueur's knowledge and intellectual powers."--The New Leader