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The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #207)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  111 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The Soviet Union at its height occupied one sixth of the world's land mass, encompassed fifteen republics, and stretched across eleven different time zones. More than twice the size of the United States, it was the great threat of the Cold War until it suddenly collapsed in 1991. Now, almost twenty years after the dissolution of this vast empire, what are we to make of its ...more
Paperback, 151 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published July 23rd 2009)
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Dawn Carole
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is exactly what the title says it is; it's a really good introduction, seemingly unbiased and informative. There is also a helpful section at the back with further reading resources - which gives specific recommendations depending on which aspect you wish to explore further.
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While far from complete at a mere 151 pages, Lovell crams an impressive degree of analysis and understanding into his very short introduction. Rather than a chronological narrative, he uses a series of dichotomies in Soviet society - future and past; coercion and participation; poverty and wealth; elite and masses; patriotism and multinationalism; and West and East - to explain the rise, functioning, and fall of the Soviet Union. Well worth a read for experts or new initiates.
Michael Tuchman
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For people growing up in my generation, the USSR just _was_. You didn't need to read books on it - it was everywhere. This book is was wonderful because it took the reader behind the monolith. The organization is a bit different than other history books, as it is organized around themes and repeats the same timeline several times, each from a different perspective. I highly recommend this multifaceted look at a society that is still with us, even though the labels have changed.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
While short and certainly not comprehensive, the book does a good job of taking a dispassionate view of the Soviet Union. In a half dozen quick chapters, the author gives a better introduction to the Soviet Union than you could have found during the cold war. I'd recommend the book to anyone who likes history or who remembers the cold war era.
David R
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this was exactly what i needed to wade deeper into understanding modern Russia in the scope of its history. well done.
Emily Hartman
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
In his book, The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction, Stephen Lovell outlines exactly what the title suggests- a brief history of the Soviet Union. Lovell has written multiple works on Russian history and is currently a part of the faculty of King’s College London. His expertise on Soviet history allowed him to create a book that gives a look into the complex, often misunderstood workings of the Soviet Union. Throughout his work, he demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the Soviet Union, it’ ...more
Amy Yang
The Soviet Union is a non-fiction book written by Stephen Lovell, who is a reader in Modern European History at King’s College London. He has written widely on Russian social and cultural history, including a prize-winning Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710-2000. Within this book, Lovell talked about the political, cultural and society influence Soviet Union had to its society during the 20th and 21st century. Rather than using a chronological order, Stephen talked about the influences in ...more
Stuart Hill
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lovell's book takes an interesting approach to the subject arranging the material on the basis of themes instead of using a more traditional chronological style. It brought out very well the contradictions of the political system and the complexity and changing nature of a regime often viewed as monolithic. Although critical of the west and seemingly paranoid about western influence, especially during the period of the purges, the country was also very much reliant on importing western technolog ...more
Bojan Tunguz
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few countries that loomed as large over the history of twentieth century as did Soviet Union, and none had done more to maintain a sustained threat to the Western countries and institutions. However, during most of its history, Soviet Union was largely a mystery for all those who wanted to know more about this vast country. This was due mostly to its own system of secrecy and disinformation, with tight control over the information that it permitted to get out to the public. Now, almost ...more
Bastián Olea H.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Breve, empieza en un tono bastante sesgado contra la URSS, pero desde la mitad en adelante se vuelve más interesante, mezclando atemporalmente los sucesos geopolíticos con las tendencias culturales rusas y las variaciones de la línea del partido, ofreciendo una imagen más dinámica que el típico relato cronológico.
Daniel Wright
Lifing up a historical corner of the iron curtain and having a brief peep. Lovell provides a fascinating glimpse into what is still to most Westerners a mostly unknown world.
Oct 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Imperialists, кулаков
Recommended to Kate by: DK266 .L69 2009
Shelves: history
Кто кого?

Time, forward!
I really did get close enough to say I finished this one.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Not my favorite of the series, but definitely not a bad one or a boring one.
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