Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives

From Stalinism to the New Cold War

Stephen F. Cohen

Columbia University Press

Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives

Google Preview

Pub Date: July 2011

ISBN: 9780231148979

328 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: June 2009

ISBN: 9780231148962

328 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£75.00

Pub Date: June 2009

ISBN: 9780231520423

328 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives

From Stalinism to the New Cold War

Stephen F. Cohen

Columbia University Press

In this wide-ranging and acclaimed book, Stephen F. Cohen challenges conventional wisdom about the course of Soviet and post-Soviet history. Reexamining leaders from Nikolai Bukharin, Stalin's preeminent opponent, and Nikita Khrushchev to Mikhail Gorbachev and his rival Yegor Ligachev, Cohen shows that their defeated policies were viable alternatives and that their tragic personal fates shaped the Soviet Union and Russia today. Cohen's ramifying arguments include that Stalinism was not the predetermined outcome of the Communist Revolution; that the Soviet Union was reformable and its breakup avoidable; and that the opportunity for a real post-Cold War relationship with Russia was squandered in Washington, not in Moscow. This is revisionist history at its best, compelling readers to rethink fateful events of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and the possibilities ahead.

In his new epilogue, Cohen expands his analysis of U.S. policy toward post-Soviet Russia, tracing its development in the Clinton and Obama administrations and pointing to its initiation of a "new Cold War" that, he implies, has led to a fateful confrontation over Ukraine.

Stephen F. Cohen is far and away the most original, creative, informed, and insightful observer writing on Russian affairs today. A pioneering historian and a fine political scientist and journalist with a tireless commitment to ferreting out elusive evidence, Cohen has had extensive, first-hand experience in both Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, close contacts among contemporary Russian leaders, and a unique following among Russian intellectuals. Known for his bold, independent, passionately held, and often provocative ideas, he is respected even by many who strongly disagree with him. Cohen writes with clarity, elegance, and power.

Alexander Rabinowitch, author of The Bolsheviks Come to Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd

Stephen F. Cohen is one of our most astute historians of both the Soviet Union and Russia. Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives once again demonstrates his encyclopedic grasp of his subject, his knack for original archival research, his deep wisdom, and an unerring ability to make difficult concepts intelligible. This book is a brilliant and probing analysis of U.S. relations with the Kremlin from Stalin to Putin. Read it!

Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Stephen F. Cohen is one of those writers who keeps real history visible while making striking and controversial policy arguments. This masterly investigation of 'lost opportunities' is necessary background for understanding Russia and the world today, giving us an opportunity for essential historical and political debate. Critics will challenge him, but Cohen is likely to emerge triumphant.

Robert Conquest, author of The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine

A brilliant and important book. Stephen Cohen is one of the world's foremost thinkers about Russia—its past, present, and future.

Dan Rather, global correspondent and managing editor, Dan Rather Reports, HDNet

Cohen offers us a lesson, and a solution that is at once simple and of priceless value.

David A. Andelman, World Policy Blog

[George] Kennan's understanding of the Russian state... has proved to have enormous currency over time. Cohen's views should be given similar credence.

William W. Finan Jr., Current History

Provocative and insightful.

Amy Knight, New York Review of Books

Well written and vigorously argued.

Archie Brown, Russian Review

Cohen... brings his study of Soviet and Russian political developments to the doorstep of the White House, to powerful effect.

The Nation

An extraordinarily rich book... an absolutely vital beginning point for anyone interested in a serious study of political and foreign policy developments involving Russia.

Slavic Review

Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives finds its stride in Cohen's ability to challenge conventional wisdom on the causes and consequences of major turning points in Soviet and post-Soviet history.

Rehanna Jones-Boutaleb, Foreign Policy in Focus

this is one of the first books I would put into the hands of someone who wanted to get a good sense of what the Soviet Union was all about.

Lars T. Lih, Montreal Review

Cohen's book is a superbly informed, astute and thought-provoking analysis of late Soviet politics and history.

Denis Kozlov, Slavonic and East European Review

Among the many strengths of Soviet Fates is not just Stephen Cohen's longtimedepth of expertise but his unrivalled storytelling ability and, perhaps above all, hisrazor-sharp insider observations based on personal exchanges, interviews, and experienceswith key actors...

Nanci Adler, Journal of Modern History
Introduction: Alternatives and Fates
1. Bukharin's Fate
2. The Victims Return: Gulag Survivors Since Stalin
3. The Tragedy of Soviet Conservatism
4. Was the Soviet System Reformable?
5. The Fate of the Soviet Union: Why Did It End?
6. Gorbachev's Lost Legacies
7. Who Lost the Post-Soviet Peace?
About the Notes
Web Features:

Stephen F. Cohen on Charlie Rose

About the Author

Stephen F. Cohen is professor of Russian studies at New York University and professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University. His other books include Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography; Rethinking the Soviet Experience; and Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.