In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this best-selling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism.
©2015 David Remnick (P)2015 Random House Audio
"A moving illumination.... Remnick is the witness for us all." (The Wall Street Journal)
"An engrossing and essential addition to the human and political literature of our time." (The New York Times)
"The most eloquent chronicle of the Soviet empire's demise published to date.... It is hard to conceive of a work that might surpass it." (Francine du Plessix Gray, Washington Post Book World)
This book was phenomenal. It did a really good job of telling the story though the eyes of a reporter who was there, constantly weaving in personal anecdotes with societal events. The protagonist (the author) clearly has a few bones to pick with the USSR government (as he should) but still manages to be remarkably objective given that this was written so close to the historical events it describes.
All around perfect literary experience. Remnick is a Titan of journalistic history on par with William Shirer. Utterly flawless. Highly recommended.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!""
If I hadn't become a musician, I am sure I would have become a historian. I love history and reading a well written history book is just heaven for me. This is a very well written book by a man who knew what he was talking about. Mr. Remnick was a (Jewish!) reporter who lived in the USSR through the Gorbachev years right up through the time of Boris Yeltsin when the USSR became Russia again. He spoke with Gorbachev on several occasions, as well as many other high level people in the Soviet government. He took his young bride with him when he received the assignment, and his son was born in Russia, so he was very connected to the country and its people.
His insights, his scope of understanding and his ability to put things into perspective without getting preachy or moralizing helped me to see this part of history more clearly and allowed me to draw my own conclusions. Here is one of my conclusions: God Bless America! When I read of the extreme hardships the Russian people had to endure because of their selfish leadership I truly cried. My heart was breaking as I read of the fishermen who had boatloads of top grade salmon ready to take to market, but had to wait for approval of the government before they could bring them ashore. By that time, the fish that could have fed thousands of starving Russians had rotted. I live in a modest sized home in a fairly nice neighborhood, but I sometimes lament that there is not enough room in my house for everything I want. I was humbled when I realized that many Soviet citizens were living in an apartment the size of my walk-in closet. People who were divorced had to continue living together for years because they could not get a second apartment. Medical care was next to non-existent. And on and on. Our first world problems are sniveling and unimportant when compared with those of this sad country.
And their problems are far from resolved. Although things have improved, the crime has sky rocketed. As one person put it, "Freedom has created more Al Capones and fewer Henry Fords." I hope they can find their way out of this darkness, but i don't think it will be any time soon. It is a country with vast potential, but things must improve before they can come close to reaching it.
Michael Prichard was an excellent narrator for this book. He seemed to understand the Russian pronunciations because they rolled off his tongue with ease. I say this, but not understanding Russian myself I could be mistaken. But compared to what Russian I have heard, it seemed to be spot on.
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