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The Soviet Experiment

Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States

Second Edition

Ronald Suny

Publication Date - May 2010

ISBN: 9780195340556

608 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $119.99

Examines the complex themes of Soviet history, ranging from the last tsar of the Russian empire to the first president of the Russian republic.


Now thoroughly revised in its second edition, The Soviet Experiment examines the complex themes of Soviet history, ranging from the last tsar of the Russian empire to the first president of the Russian republic. Author Ronald Grigor Suny, one of the most eminent Soviet historians of our time, examines the legacies left by former Soviet leaders and explores successor states and the challenges they now face. He captures familiar as well as little-known events--the crowds on the streets during the February Revolution, Stalin's collapse into a near-catatonic state after Hitler's invasion, and Yeltsin's political maneuvering and public grandstanding--combining gripping detail with insightful analysis.

New to this Edition

  • Offers expanded coverage of imperial Russia and non-Russian Soviet republics.
  • New scholarship on Stalin and the post-Stalin decades to the final years of the Soviet Union.
  • A new concluding chapter brings the story up to the Putin-Medvedev years.


  • Shows the complexities and contradictions of the entire Soviet Union, including Russia, the Ukraine, Caucasia, Central Asia, and the Baltic States
  • Utilizes an analytic approach that neither celebrates nor denigrates Soviet accomplishments
  • Carefully balances social, cultural, and political history
  • Discusses different experiences based upon gender, class, and region
  • Examines a wide range of historiographical positions on major issues

About the Author(s)

Ronald Grigor Suny is Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History and Director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents (OUP, 2003) and A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (OUP, 2001).

Previous Publication Date(s)

November 1997

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Utopia and its Discontents

    Part I: Crisis and Revolution

    1. The Imperial Legacy

    Land and People
    Autocracy, Nobility, and Bureaucracy
    The Coming of Capitalism
    The Russian Intelligentsia
    Marx, Lenin, and the Case of Russia
    Empire and Nation in Tsarist Russia
    The Final Crisis of Tsarism
    The Tsar's Last War
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    2. The Double Revolution

    The February Revolution and the End of Romanov Rule
    Overlapping Revolutions, Dual Power
    The Revolution Deepens
    On the Road to October
    The October Insurrection
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    3. Socialism and Civil War

    On the Road from Democracy to Dictatorship
    After October
    Socialism, What's in a Name?
    Building State Capitalism
    Building the State: War, Peace, and Terror
    Intervention and the Civil War in the South
    Civil War in Siberia and the Volga
    Russia on its Own
    Waiting for the International Revolution
    Where Have All the Workers Gone?
    The Peasant Revolution
    Why the Bolsheviks Won the Civil War
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    4. Nationalism and Revolution

    South Caucasia
    Ukrainians and Belorussians
    Poland and the Russo-Polish War
    The Baltic Peoples
    Islam and the Peoples of the East
    Nationalist and Class Struggles
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    Part II: Retreat and Rebuilding

    5. Evolution of a Dictatorship

    Five Easy Steps
    One-Party Government
    The Emasculation of the Soviets
    The Party/State
    Opposition Within the Party
    Resistance, Rebellion, and Mutiny
    "A Retreat to State Capitalism"
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    6. Socialism in One Country

    The Nationality Question
    The General Secretary
    Lenin's Mantle
    Early Crises of the NEP Economy
    Socialism in One Country
    The Final Crisis of NEP
    Retreat and Retrenchment
    Soviet Union Isolated
    Continuing Revolution in Asia
    The War Scare of 1927
    Stalin and the Comintern
    Balance and Power
    Stalin's Path to Power
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    7. NEP Society

    Cultures and Classes
    Workers under State Capitalism
    Peasant Russia
    The Red Army
    The New Soviet Man and Woman
    Religious Wars
    Building Legitimate Authority
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    8. Culture Wars

    Intelligentsia and Revolution
    Fellow-Travelers and Proletarian Writers
    Film and Popular Culture
    Soviet School Days
    Cultural Revolution
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    Part III: Stalinism

    9. The Stalin Revolution

    Revolution from Above
    War on the Peasants and the Final Opposition
    Collectivization and Dekulakization
    Famine in Ukraine
    The Countryside After the Storm
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    10. Stalin's Industrial Revolution

    Industrialization Stalin-Style
    Class War on the "Specialists"
    Extension and Centralization
    Stalin's Working Class
    The New Class of Bosses
    The Second Five-Year Plan and Stakhanovism
    Making the Socialist City
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    11. Building Stalinism

    Politics and the Party
    The Great Purges
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    12. Culture and Society in the Socialist Motherland

    Socialist Realism
    Going to the Movies with Stalin
    Disciplining the Intelligentsia
    Women and the Family
    Mind, Body, and Soul
    Indestructible Union
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    13. Collective Security and the Soviet State

    The Fascist Menace
    The Popular Front and Collective Security
    War in Europe.
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    14. The Great Fatherland War

    From Blitzkrieg to War of Attrition
    The Supreme Commander and the Road to Stalingrad
    War and Diplomacy, at Home and Abroad
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    15. The Big Chill: The Cold War Begins

    Historians Look at the Cold War
    Diplomacy and the War Effort
    Yalta and its Aftermath
    Atomic Diplomacy
    A New World Order

    The Left in Europe
    The Soviets in Eastern Europe
    Perceptions and Misperceptions
    The Division of Europe
    The Finnish Exception
    The German Question
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    16. Late Stalinism at Home and Abroad

    From under the Rubble
    Reconstructing Hearts and Minds
    Stalinizing Eastern Europe
    Cold War and Hot War
    High Politics in the Kremlin Court
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    Part IV: Reform and Stagnation

    17. From Autocracy to Oligarchy. Khrushchev and the Politics of

    The Several Deaths of Stalin
    The Man
    The Soviets Enter the Nuclear Age
    "Peaceful Coexistence" and its Set-Backs
    Khrushchev in Crisis
    The "Thaw" and Destalinization
    Farm, Factory, and School
    Rift with China
    Crises in the West
    Kennedy and Khrushchev
    Khrushchev's Gamble: The Cuban Missile Crisis
    The Fall of Khrushchev
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    18. The Paradoxes of Brezhnev's Long Reign

    The Leadership
    Meeting the American Challenge: Vietnam
    The Defeat of Reforms
    Crushing the Prague Spring
    Public Opinion and Dissent
    Brezhnev Ascendant
    Social Changes in the Era of Stagnation
    Détente and the Arms Race
    Two Crises: Afghanistan and Poland
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    Part V: Reform and Revolution.

    19. Reform and the Road to Revolution.

    The Brief Reign of Iurii Andropov
    The Briefer Reign of Konstantin Chernenko
    The Road to Radical Reform
    Glasnost and the Erosion of Authority
    The "New Thinking and the End of the Cold War
    Politics in a New Idiom
    The "Awakening" of Nations
    From Reform to Revolution
    The Unraveling of the Empire at Home
    Surrendering Stalin's Empire
    Power to the People
    The Final Crisis
    Coup and Collapse
    Suggestions for Further Reading

    20. The Second Russian Republic and the "Near Abroad"

    The Shock of Therapy
    Constitutional Crisis
    Russia, the Near Abroad, and Beyond
    The War in Chechnya
    Treading Water
    The Decline and Abdication
    Reviving Russia
    The World Outside

    Suggestions for Further Reading