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Too little, too late

From Bolshevism to gangster capitalism
by
September 2022, no. 446

The Shortest History of the Soviet Union by Sheila Fitzpatrick

Black Inc., $24.99 pb, 248 pp

Book 2 Cover Small (400 x 600)

Collapse: The fall of the Soviet Union by Vladislav M. Zubok

Yale University Press, US$35 hb, 559 pp

Too little, too late

From Bolshevism to gangster capitalism
by
September 2022, no. 446

In these relentless times, thirty years ago might be prehistory; events now appear to move so breathlessly that the ‘world-changing’ and ‘historic’ occur with terrible regularity. The flip side of this relentlessness and hyperbole is that wars, floods, financial disasters, coups, and political murders are just as quickly forgotten. As we enter a global recession brought on by the twin pincers of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget two other events still shaping our world: the global financial crisis of fifteen years ago, never fully overcome, and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

These key moments emerged, in their turn, from another which has been singularly influential in shaping our world today: the global political and cultural realignments brought about by the end of the Cold War, the end of communism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991. Far from signalling the end of history, these years were seminal to a new era whose unstable foundations continue to shift and loosen. Putin’s nostalgia for a lost – albeit failed – empire is just one indication that the end of the Soviet Union is a story still unfolding: it will play out on a timescale beyond the lightning immediacy of social media and trending topics.

Luke Stegemann reviews 'The Shortest History of the Soviet Union' by Sheila Fitzpatrick and 'Collapse: The fall of the Soviet Union' by Vladislav M. Zubok

The Shortest History of the Soviet Union

by Sheila Fitzpatrick

Black Inc., $24.99 pb, 248 pp

Book 2 Cover Small (400 x 600)

Collapse: The fall of the Soviet Union

by Vladislav M. Zubok

Yale University Press, US$35 hb, 559 pp

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