Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia

Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia

by Yegor Gaidar
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"My goal is to show the reader that the Soviet political and economic system was unstable by its very nature. It was just a question of when and how it would collapse...." —From the Introduction to Collapse of an Empire The Soviet Union was an empire in many senses of the word—a vast mix of far-flung regions and accidental citizens by way of

Overview

"My goal is to show the reader that the Soviet political and economic system was unstable by its very nature. It was just a question of when and how it would collapse...." —From the Introduction to Collapse of an Empire The Soviet Union was an empire in many senses of the word—a vast mix of far-flung regions and accidental citizens by way of conquest or annexation. Typical of such empires, it was built on shaky foundations. That instability made its demise inevitable, asserts Yegor Gaidar, former prime minister of Russia and architect of the "shock therapy" economic reforms of the 1990s. Yet a growing desire to return to the glory days of empire is pushing today's Russia backward into many of the same traps that made the Soviet Union untenable. In this important new book, Gaidar clearly illustrates why Russian nostalgia for empire is dangerous and ill-fated: "Dreams of returning to another era are illusory. Attempts to do so will lead to defeat." Gaidar uses world history, the Soviet experience, and economic analysis to demonstrate why swimming against this tide of history would be a huge mistake. The USSR sowed the seeds of its own economic destruction, and Gaidar worries that Russia is repeating some of those mistakes. Once again, for example, the nation is putting too many eggs into one basket, leaving the nation vulnerable to fluctuations in the energy market. The Soviets had used revenues from energy sales to prop up struggling sectors such as agriculture, which was so thoroughly ravaged by hyperindustrialization that the Soviet Union became a net importer of food. When oil prices dropped in the 1980s, that revenue stream diminished, and dependent sectors suffered heavily. Although strategies requiring austerity or sacrifice can be politically difficult, Russia needs to prepare for such downturns and restrain spending during prosperous times. Collapse of an Empire shows why it is imperative to fix the roof before it starts to rain, and why sometimes the past should be left in the past.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Collapse of an Empire is a warning to today's Russian leaders to avoid the disastrous mistakes of their Soviet predecessors." —Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times

" Collapse of an Empire is about the disintegration of the USSR. It is one of the best accounts we have, and is likely to be referred to for a long time." —Philip Hanson, Chatham House, The Russian Review

"Gaidar wonders whether Russia's political and economic institutions will prove flexible enough to cope with another balance-of-payment crisis. If not, Russia may yet meet an end similar to the Soviet Union's. And on this critical point, Gaidar—no Cassandra, but rather a sober analyst of the half-baked illiberal democracy that is Russia today—has written a book far more instructive than most of the Western media's mass-produced anti-Putin pamphlets." —Guy Sorman, City Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815731146
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
11/02/2007
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

George Soros
"Yegor Gaidar, a hero of Russian reform, has provided a courageous and clear-headed wakeup call for his own people and the world. He argues persuasively that today's Kremlin leaders are heading down the same economic path that led their Communist predecessors to disaster. Combining personal experience, deep analysis and a rare grasp of facts-including from previously classified documents-Gaidar has produced a book of insight and importance. It is must-reading for anyone trying to comprehend what really happened to the Soviet Union, why its system was inherently instable, and why nostalgia for the 'days of empire'-fashionable at the highest levels in Russia today-is wrongheaded and dangerous."
Andrei Schleifer
"Yegor Gaidar will be known to history as the architect of Russia's transition to a market economy. But here he shows his other side, as a brilliant economist and historian presenting a compelling explanation of the Soviet Union's collapse: its financial bankruptcy."--(Andrei Schleifer, Harvard University and author of A Normal Country: Russia after Communism)
Anders Aslund
"Yegor Gaidar has written an outstanding book of great importance. With extraordinary erudition, he warns Russia against following the course of Nazi Germany, focusing on the double trap of post-imperial hangover and the oil curse. Professor Gaidar also shows how profound and manifold the Soviet collapse of 1991 really was."--(Anders Aslund, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Meet the Author

Yegor Gaidar, Boris Yeltsin's acting prime minister in 1992, was the architect of "shock therapy" reforms designed to hasten Russia's transition to capitalism in the 1990s. He is currently the director of the Institute for the Economy in Transition, a Moscow-based research organization.

On November 24, 2006,Yegor Gaidar fell seriously ill while presenting the Russian edition of this book in Ireland. Much speculation at the time, including Gaidar's own article in the Financial Times, attributed the illness to poisoning.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >