There Is No Freedom Without Bread! by Constantine Pleshakov
1989 and the Civil War That Brought Down Communism

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The conventional story of the end of the cold war focuses on the geopolitical power struggle between the United States and the USSR: Ronald Reagan waged an aggressive campaign against communism, outspent the USSR, and forced Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

In There Is No Freedom Without Bread!, a daring revisionist account of that seminal year, the Russian-born historian Constantine Pleshakov proposes a very different interpretation. The revolutions that took place during this momentous year were infinitely more complex than the archetypal image of the “good” masses overthrowing the “bad” puppet regimes of the Soviet empire. Politicking, tensions between Moscow and local communist governments, compromise between the revolutionary leaders and the communist old-timers, and the will and anger of the people—all had a profound influence in shaping the revolutions as multifaceted movements that brought about one of the greatest transformations in history.

In a dramatic narrative culminating in a close examination of the whirlwind year, Pleshakov challenges the received wisdom and argues that 1989 was as much about national civil wars and internal struggles for power as it was about the Eastern Europeans throwing off the yoke of Moscow.


About Constantine Pleshakov

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Constantine Pleshakov is the author of several works of history, including Stalin’s Folly, The Tsar’s Last Armada, The Flight of the Romanovs, and Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War. He teaches at Mount Holyoke College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Published October 27, 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 304 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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“Contrary to popular belief,” writes the author, “in Eastern Europe Stalin did not clone regime after regime after regime…[he] realized that the cookie cutter approach to communism did not work.” Consequently, in Poland only ten percent of the land was collectivized after World War II, very unlik...

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