Uncivil Society by Stephen Kotkin
1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library Chronicles)

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Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. In one of modern history’s most miraculous occurrences, communism imploded–and not with a bang, but with a whimper. Now two of the foremost scholars of East European and Soviet affairs, Stephen Kotkin and Jan T. Gross, drawing upon two decades of reflection, revisit this crash. In a crisp, concise, unsentimental narrative, they employ three case studies–East Germany, Romania, and Poland–to illuminate what led Communist regimes to surrender, or to be swept away in political bank runs. This is less a story of dissidents, so-called civil society, than of the bankruptcy of a ruling class–communism’s establishment, or “uncivil society.” The Communists borrowed from the West like drunken sailors to buy mass consumer goods, then were unable to pay back the hard-currency debts and so borrowed even more. In Eastern Europe, communism came to resemble a Ponzi scheme, one whose implosion carries enduring lessons. From East Germany’s pseudotechnocracy to Romania’s megalomaniacal dystopia, from Communist Poland’s cult of Mary to the Kremlin’s surprise restraint, Kotkin and Gross pull back the curtain on the fraud and decadence that cashiered the would-be alternative to the market and democracy, an outcome that opened up to a deeper global integration that has proved destabilizing.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Stephen Kotkin

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Stephen Kotkin is Professor of European and Asian History at Princeton University, where he also directs the Russian-Eurasian Studies Program. He is the author of nine books, including an acclaimed two-volume study of the rise and fall of Soviet socialism: Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization and Steeltown, USSR: Soviet Society in the Gorbachev Era.
Published September 25, 2009 by Modern Library. 240 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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A splendid and compact study of the failure of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989.

Jan 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Uncivil Society: 1989 and the...

The Economist

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Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment.

Nov 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Uncivil Society: 1989 and the...

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