Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
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Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"One of the great stories of our time . . . a wonderful anecdotal history of a great drama."
--San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

As Washington Post correspondent in Moscow, Warsaw, and Yugoslavia in the final decade of the Soviet empire, Michael Dobbs had a ringside seat to the extraordinary events that led to the unraveling of the Bolshevik Revolution.From Tito's funeral...more
ebook, 528 pages
Published March 23rd 2011 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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This is one of the great stories of history, the rapid, astonishing and total collapse of one of the largest, most monolithic empires which at the same time represented the grand alternative to capitalism, the dream of equality for all, international brotherhood and peace, the dream that caused the world to live in fear of nuclear wipe-out for 50 years. It was so huge, it was Mordor, its troops and tanks numberless, and yet in a couple of years it melted away like snow on the water. And with har...more
During the thousand years of her history, Russia had seen many great things. During the Soviet period the country had seen global military victories, vast construction sites, whole new cities, dams across the Dnieper and the Volga, canals joining different seas. The country had seen mighty tractors and skyscrapers… There was only one thing Russia had not seen during this thousand years: Freedom.

- Vasily Grossman, Everything Flows

Where the Russian flag has once been hoisted, it cannot be lowere...more
I started reading this to help me prepare for the second season of “The Americans”, and it has instead dovetailed with the Vladimir Putin’s takeover of the Crimea. This book works as a fantastic bookend to Dobbs’ own “Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill and Truman—From World War to Cold War” or Anne Applebaum’s “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1945-56”.

The author was a foreign correspondent in many of the countries where Communism began to tear apart at the seams, and when h...more
Richard Lim
Down With Big Brother is an entertaining and ambitious account that seeks to chronicle the entire fall of the Soviet Union in one volume. The author, Michael Dobbs, was present for many of the critical events (Solidarity in 1980, Tiananmen in 1989, and Moscow in 1991), giving the book a pseudo-memoir feel. The result is an fast-paced, action packed account that makes it a perfect first draft of history. Dobbs zigzags across the geopolitical landscape of the 1980s, taking the reader from Afghanis...more

Many on the political right contend that Reagan single-handily caused the Soviet Union’s collapse. Michael Dobbs, a Washington Post reporter and its bureaus chief in Moscow and Warsaw, demonstrates in his far ranging history that the right could not be more wrong.

Dobbs believes the slow collapse began with formation of Solidarity and Lech Walesa in the Gdansk, Poland shipyard in 1980. Workers struck causing for the first time confusion and hesitation in the ranks of the Polish Communist leaders....more
I didn't know Michael Dobbs before reading his One minute to midnight book over the Cuban missile crisis. Given how fantastic that book was, I was naturally tempted to catch on this one.

I wasn't disappointed. This book is great, very well researched and masterfully narrated. It can keep you hooked page after page even when retelling events you already know well, and will surely surprise you too with details and facts you probably didn't know or suspected.

Dobbs is very good at giving you a lifeli...more
I love to learn more about history, but I don't like the feeling that I'm reading a history book. In this regard, this book was great. It was quick paced, while still giving the facts and details about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While reading about the conflict right now in Ukraine and Crimea, I realized I didn't know much about it's history and relationship with Russia. With these current events, this was a great book to get an overall background of these countries.
Tom Schulte
For a political history, this has a brisk, fly-on-the-wall vibe like the best of Bob Woodward. It is amazing in our era of bloody democratic uprisings in an Arab Spring to read of such largely effective transitions out of the decrepit Soviet Union. The failed coup that saw Yeltsin replace Gorbachev and the military imposition on Vilnius while the world (and the U.S.) was rapt with Desert Storm were particular close calls all eclipsed by the bloody horror of Serb and Croat race war in the ashes o...more
Aaron Shields
Great. Can't imagine a better book on the last 12 years of the USSR and insight into Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and various influential Eastern European leaders. Learned a bunch
A bit breathless and starry-eyed in its recounting of the crumbling of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but well-assembled and gripping nonetheless. (For a book written in the mid-1990s, Dobbs can be forgiven to some extent for not forseeing that the transition to capitalism would not be quite as smooth for Russia and the former Soviet republics and satellites as he expected it would be.)
A very good, overall look at the last years of the USSR.
Adam Fangman
Effectively scratched my itch for a good book on the Brezhnev era and late socialism. It's often repetitive - he'll explain who a person is and then explain again two pages later - but it's just a sign that these chapters originated as press dispatches. Favorite discovered factoid: Ceausescu hummed "L'Internationale" as he was marched to his death.
Extremely well written and researched book! It really read like a good fiction work and held my interest from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about the period of time that includes the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union.
Randal White
Outstanding! An excellent history of the fall of the Soviet Union by a man who was there to observe it in person. Highly recommend.
Fantastic account of the final fifteen years of the USSR, by a journalist who witnessed many of its most dramatic events first-hand.
Interesting historical read. Scary though how so much of what happened in the Soviet Union is happening now in the United States.
Ah, the good old days. This is like comfort food for those who worked in Russia or Eastern Europe in the early 1990s...
Dennis Willingham
Great history of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Good info on things happening when I was a kid.
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Michael Dobbs was, almost literally, a child of the Cold War. His diplomat parents whisked him off to Russia at the age of six weeks. As a child, he lived through the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the construction of the Berlin wall. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he witnessed the birth of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the hope and tragedy of Tiananmen Square, th...more
More about Michael Dobbs...
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman--from World War to Cold War Saboteurs The Nazi Raid on America Madeleine Albright: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey

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