Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War

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Overview

In this wide-ranging and acclaimed book, Stephen F. Cohen challenges conventional wisdom about the course of Soviet and post-Soviet history. Reexamining leaders from Nikolai Bukharin, Stalin's preeminent opponent, and Nikita Khrushchev to Mikhail Gorbachev and his rival Yegor Ligachev, Cohen shows that their defeated policies were viable alternatives and that their tragic personal fates shaped the Soviet Union and Russia today. Cohen's ramifying arguments include that Stalinism was not the predetermined outcome of the Communist Revolution; that the Soviet Union was reformable and its breakup avoidable; and that the opportunity for a real post-Cold War relationship with Russia was squandered in Washington, not in Moscow. This is revisionist history at its best, compelling readers to rethink fateful events of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and the possibilities ahead.

In his new epilogue, Cohen expands his analysis of U.S. policy toward post-Soviet Russia, tracing its development in the Clinton and Obama administrations and pointing to its initiation of a "new Cold War" that, he implies, has led to a fateful confrontation over Ukraine.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

World Policy Blog - David A. Andelman

Cohen offers us a lesson, and a solution that is at once simple and of priceless value.

Current History - William W. Finan Jr.

[George] Kennan's understanding of the Russian state... has proved to have enormous currency over time. Cohen's views should be given similar credence.

New York Review of Books - Amy Knight

Provocative and insightful.

Russian Review - Archie Brown

Well written and vigorously argued.

Foreign Policy in Focus - Rehanna Jones-Boutaleb

Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives finds its stride in Cohen's ability to challenge conventional wisdom on the causes and consequences of major turning points in Soviet and post-Soviet history.

Montreal Review - Lars T. Lih

this is one of the first books I would put into the hands of someone who wanted to get a good sense of what the Soviet Union was all about.

Slavonic and East European Review - Denis Kozlov

Cohen's book is a superbly informed, astute and thought-provoking analysis of late Soviet politics and history.

Journal of Modern History - Nanci Adler

Among the many strengths of Soviet Fates is not just Stephen Cohen's longtimedepth of expertise but his unrivalled storytelling ability and, perhaps above all, hisrazor-sharp insider observations based on personal exchanges, interviews, and experienceswith key actors...

World Policy Blog
Cohen offers us a lesson, and a solution that is at once simple and of priceless value.

— David A. Andelman

Current History
[George] Kennan's understanding of the Russian state... has proved to have enormous currency over time. Cohen's views should be given similar credence.

— William W. Finan Jr.

New York Review of Books
Provocative and insightful.

— Amy Knight

Russian Review
Well written and vigorously argued.

— Archie Brown

The Nation

Cohen... brings his study of Soviet and Russian political developments to the doorstep of the White House, to powerful effect.

Slavic Review

An extraordinarily rich book... an absolutely vital beginning point for anyone interested in a serious study of political and foreign policy developments involving Russia.

Foreign Policy in Focus
Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives finds its stride in Cohen's ability to challenge conventional wisdom on the causes and consequences of major turning points in Soviet and post-Soviet history.

— Rehanna Jones-Boutaleb

Montreal Review
this is one of the first books I would put into the hands of someone who wanted to get a good sense of what the Soviet Union was all about.

— Lars T. Lih

Slavonic and East European Review
Cohen's book is a superbly informed, astute and thought-provoking analysis of late Soviet politics and history.

— Denis Kozlov

Journal of Modern History
Among the many strengths of Soviet Fates is not just Stephen Cohen's longtimedepth of expertise but his unrivalled storytelling ability and, perhaps above all, hisrazor-sharp insider observations based on personal exchanges, interviews, and experienceswith key actors...

— Nanci Adler

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231148979
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 163,313
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen F. Cohen is professor of Russian studies at New York University and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His other books include Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography; Rethinking the Soviet Experience; and Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Alternatives and Fates1. Bukharin's Fate2. The Victims Return: Gulag Survivors Since Stalin3. The Tragedy of Soviet Conservatism4. Was the Soviet System Reformable?5. The Fate of the Soviet Union: Why Did It End?6. Gorbachev's Lost Legacies7. Who Lost the Post-Soviet Peace?About the NotesNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommended...antidote to media over simplifications of complex issues.

    I recommend this book, especially the last chapter, as antidote to Western media over-simplifications to which a rather large portion of the progressive as well as right-wing media have been prone.

    Cohen knows Soviet-era and post-soviet Russian politics better than the vast majority of non-Russians. He warned that U.S. policy to expand NATO eastward would provoke resistance in Russia, as it clearly has done over the Ukraine.

    .The book is valuable in offering a sense of political and diplomatic history in which not everything is inevitable, where political leaders face real alternatives, and opportunities can be well used or lost.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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