The Fall of the Soviet Empire
From the author ofTwelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolutioncomes a revealing new account of the collapse of the Soviet Union's European empire during months of largely peaceful revolution that profoundly changed the world. At the start of 1989, six European nations were Soviet vassal states. By year's end, they had all declared national independence, embarking on the road to democracy. How did it happen so quickly? Why did the USSR capitulate so readily? Victor Sebestyen, who was on the scene reporting for the LondonEvening Standardat the time, draws on his firsthand knowledge of the events of 1989, on scores of interviews with other witnesses and participants, and on newly uncovered archival material to answer these questions in unprecedented depth. Sebestyen tells the story through the eyes of ordinary men and women, some of whom found themselves almost miraculously transformed: the furnace stoker who became the Czech foreign minister; the Romanian poet who, just freed from jail, was made vice president of the newly liberated nation. He shows how power was wielded or ceded by Mikhail Gorbachev, George H. W. Bush, Lech Walesa, Václav Havel, and Margaret Thatcher, among others; how the KGB helped bring down former allied regimes; how the United States tried to slow the process; and why the collapse of the Iron Curtain was the catalyst for the fall of the entire Soviet empire. Authoritative, riveting in both its broad political sweep and its abundance of personal detail, this is an essential addition to the annals of contemporary history.
New York : Pantheon Books, c2009.