Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
A devastating glimpse into life at the top of the Soviet Union--ironically written by the man who, as director of the Institute for the Study of the United States and Canada, was one of the Soviet system's most effective defenders. In grappling with that paradox, Arbatov admits that he wasn't a closet progressive or reformer but was, like the majority of Soviet citizens, a ``rational believer''--though apparently one who courageously shielded colleagues from the wrath of a pervasively corrupt system. Arbatov's own father, he reports, was imprisoned under Stalin as a counterrevolutionary. Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin, was, Arbatov says, too much a product of the system to do away with it, while Brezhnev was a mediocre man who manipulated the system with great skill but who, in his later years, needed to have written down for him even the most elementary information required for a conversation. Under Brezhnev, nothing changed and the system preserved its status quo at any cost. The bureaucracy grew so vast that agriculture alone supported three million bureaucrats--``more than all the farmers in America.'' During the Brezhnev period, Arbatov explains, the Soviet military-industrial complex became increasingly dominant, and, misled by the Marxist takeover in Angola, involved the country in expensive adventures in Ethiopia, Yemen, and, ultimately, Afghanistan. The strain on a system already badly run was so great that, in retrospect, Arbatov finds that reform probably was no option at all. He says that Andropov, though blessed with ``an extraordinary gift for politics,'' was too old and sick when he took over to make a difference; and Gorbachev, though Arbatov was initially ``enchanted'' with him, was marred by his ``strategic ambivalence and lack of political scruples.'' An unusually intimate and honest attempt to portray the last years of the Soviet Union by one who, for all his faults, retained a sense of honor. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descripción Times Books, 1992. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M081291970X
Descripción Times Books, 1992. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX081291970X
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