Summary of Collapse of an Empire

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Collapse of an Empire book summary


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This remarkably accessible, lucid survey of recent Russian history is a must-read for anyone interested in global affairs. Yegor Gaidar, an acting prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, provides a concise yet comprehensive summary of the course of empires during the 20th century, and draws some pointed lessons. His goal is to counter nostalgia for the glory days of the Soviet Union. getAbstract admires how effectively he executes his objective, with a step-by-step recapitulation of the economic blunders that led inevitably to the Soviet Union’s dissolution. However, he also shows why those who expected democracy to grow must face the fact that it is on the retreat – and he leaves no doubt about Russia’s dangerous crossroads.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Soviet Union collapsed;
  • Why the downfall of territorially integrated empires is perilous; and
  • What threats nostalgia for the lost empire posed.

About the Author

Yegor Gaidar, Boris Yeltsin’s acting prime minister in 1992, was the architect of “shock therapy” reforms during Russia’s transition to capitalism in the 1990s. He is director of the Institute for the Economy in Transition, a Moscow-based research organization.



Russia is nostalgic for its empire. However, this nostalgia is not uniquely Russian. Other empires collapsed during the course of the 20th century – in fact, every empire that met the dawn of the 20th century collapsed before the dusk.

The century saw two kinds of...

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