In her razor-sharp analysis, French Sovietologist d'Encausse chronicles the bloody ethnic conflicts and nationalist movements that broke up the U.S.S.R. Gorbachev's fierce Leninism, his determination to rebuild a strong, centralized Soviet state, blinded him to the full force of resurgent nationalisms, according to the author. Popular fronts emerged in every republic, becoming the nuclei of genuine political parties and nurturing a participatory civil society that challenged the U.S.S.R.'s very existence. Readers interested in the possible future of the former Soviet republics will find much insight here. Increasingly, writes d'Encausse, the new republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States view Russia with suspicion as the heir to the Soviet regime. She reviews a host of problems facing Boris Yeltsin, including the rise of a pan-Islamic movement across Central Asia, Ukraine's flexing of its military muscle and agitation by sizable ethnic populations who were forcibly displaced by Stalin. (Jan.)
A distinguished French Sovietologist analyzes the USSR's disintegration from the perspective of the independence struggle of its former republics and the conflict within them among their constituent national groups. Her careful study reveals an internal empire ruled with as much ineptitude as malice and whose breakup has produced innumerable flashpoints, which involve not only the Russians but also such lesser-known groups as the Georgians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians, not to mention antagonistic Muslim sects. Chapters cover all major geographic areas, the emergence of ``national fronts,'' and the breakup itself. For all specialists and the highly informed reader.-- Robert Decker, Palo Alto, Cal.