The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR

The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR

by Chris Miller


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For half a century the Soviet economy was inefficient but stable. In the late 1980s, to the surprise of nearly everyone, it suddenly collapsed. Why did this happen? And what role did Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's economic reforms play in the country's dissolution? In this groundbreaking study, Chris Miller shows that Gorbachev and his allies tried to learn from the great success story of transitions from socialism to capitalism, Deng Xiaoping's China. Why, then, were efforts to revitalize Soviet socialism so much less successful than in China?

Making use of never-before-studied documents from the Soviet politburo and other archives, Miller argues that the difference between the Soviet Union and China—and the ultimate cause of the Soviet collapse—was not economics but politics. The Soviet government was divided by bitter conflict, and Gorbachev, the ostensible Soviet autocrat, was unable to outmaneuver the interest groups that were threatened by his economic reforms. Miller's analysis settles long-standing debates about the politics and economics of perestroika, transforming our understanding of the causes of the Soviet Union's rapid demise.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469661537
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 08/01/2020
Series: The New Cold War History
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Chris Miller is assistant professor of international history at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-director of the school's Russia and Eurasia Program.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Miller brings together politics, ideology, and, most importantly, economics to explain one of the most dramatic and consequential developments in recent history—the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of China. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in not only the history of the Cold War, but also the future of the world that awaits us.—Serhii Plokhii, author of The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union

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