Political Will and Personal Belief: The Decline and Fall of Soviet Communism

Overview

Paul Hollander focuses on the human aspects of the failure of Soviet communism. He examines how members of the Soviet political elite, leaders in communist Czechoslovakia and Hungary, high-ranking officials in agencies of control and coercion, and distinguished defectors and exiles experienced the erosion of ideals that undermined the political system they had once believed in.
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Overview

Paul Hollander focuses on the human aspects of the failure of Soviet communism. He examines how members of the Soviet political elite, leaders in communist Czechoslovakia and Hungary, high-ranking officials in agencies of control and coercion, and distinguished defectors and exiles experienced the erosion of ideals that undermined the political system they had once believed in.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Despite its arid title, this is a significant and interesting book. Hollander, well known for his excellent study of Western champions of the Soviet system (Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, 1927-1978), here examines 22 members of the ruling elite in the USSR and Eastern Europe who lost their faith. How, he wonders, was the determination to rule gradually undermined. He explores this question through interviews with defectors, exiles, high-ranking current political functionaries, and police officials and a careful reading of a collection of memoirs. While not minimizing the effects of economic collapse, Hollander rightly stresses the human component in communism's fall: the elites' loss of confidence in its right to govern played a vital part in the utterly unforeseen denouement. A worthy volume for academic and major public libraries.--Robert H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Jacob Heilbrunn
Hollander makes a number of telling points. He looks at the discrepancy between the cosseted lives of the ruling Communist elite and the workers they pretended to represent.
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300076202
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1 The Human Factor in the Failure of Communism 1
Ch. 2 Defectors and Exiles: Disillusionment Before the Fall 35
Ch. 3 Soviet Leaders: The Reformers 87
Ch. 4 The Ambivalence of High-Level Functionaries 135
Ch. 5 The Political Transformation of East European Leaders 167
Ch. 6 Leading Specialists in "State Security" (Political Police) 209
Ch. 7 Conclusions: The Unity of Theory and Practice 275
Appendix: The Interviews 299
Notes 307
Bibliography 340
Index 351
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