The Strange Death of the Soviet Empire by David Pryce-Jones
The Soviet empire did die a “strange death.” As challenges to Moscow’s hegemony rolled across Eastern Europe in 1989, many observers anticipated that the Kremlin would unleash a terrible wave of repression. “In the light of Marxism-Leninism and past Soviet practice,” writes David Pryce-Jones, a foreign correspondent for many years for the Daily Telegraph of London and the author of several widely praised books on international affairs, “nothing else was to be expected.” But in the end the USSR went quietly into the night. The great riddle Pryce-Jones attempts to solve here is: why?
One promising place to look for an answer is the recollections of participants. The Strange Death of the Soviet Empire offers precisely that: it is based on interviews with an impressively wide range of Soviet and East European political figures, including old-line apparatchiks, dissidents, reform Communists, independent-minded scholars, and military officers. These interviewees prove for the most part to be shrewd analysts, although they also frequently contradict one another, and the scent of self-interest is detectable in what they say. Nevertheless, Pryce-Jones succeeds in weaving together their words with his own probing analysis; the resulting composite portrait consistently deepens our understanding of one of the greatest and least bloody revolutions of modern times.
About the Author
Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.