Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union

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9780300087055: Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union

The first state in history to be based explicitly on atheism, the Soviet Union endowed itself with the attributes of God. In this book, David Satter shows through individual stories what it meant to construct an entire state on the basis of a false idea, how people were forced to act out this fictitious reality, and the tragic human cost of the Soviet attempt to remake reality by force.

“I had almost given up hope that any American could depict the true face of Russia and Soviet rule. In David Satter’s Age of Delirium, the world has received a chronicle of the calvary of the Russian people under communism that will last for generations.”―Vladimir Voinovich, author of The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin

“Spellbinding. . . . Gives one a visceral feel for what it was like to be trapped by the communist system.”―Jack Matlock, Washington Post

“Satter deserves our gratitude. . . . He is an astute observer of people, with an eye for essential detail and for human behavior in a universe wholly different from his own experience in America.”―Walter Laqueur, Wall Street Journal

“Every page of this splendid and eloquent and impassioned book reflects an extraordinarily acute understanding of the Soviet system.”―Jacob Heilbrunn, Washington Times

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Review:

The collapse of the Soviet Union figures among the important events of the latter half of the century. David Satter, a reporter in Moscow for the Financial Times of London from 1976 to 1982, recorded with great detail the failings of the Soviet Union during the time and has cast those failings into a telling postmortem on the Communist state. The bulk of his material comes in the form of vignettes from people who suffered through the iron rule and the oppression and bleakness it fostered. Their stories provide personal insights as to why the empire collapsed.

From the Back Cover:

Feared and respected as one of the world's two great superpowers, the Soviet Union throughout the final twenty years of its life was a model of state-organized delusion. As David Satter shows in powerful detail, the leaders of the Kremlin found that when their carefully constricted facade fell apart in the late 1980s, there was nothing to prop up the crumbling ruins. Satter's book demonstrates compellingly how the Soviet people were forced to live a gigantic lie. During nearly two decades of reporting for the Financial Times and Reader's Digest, he interviewed Soviet citizens all across the vast country, not just the dissidents and party apparatchiks in Moscow but ordinary men and women. Traveling with him from coal mines and farms to bureaucratic reception halls to the nightmarish wards of punitive psychiatric hospitals to railroad stations where victims of the Communist system set up camp, the reader witnesses how an entire state was constituted on the basis of a fraudulent version of reality. In the Soviet Union, lying - at the grocery and the factory as well as the government office - was universal and obligatory, and Westerners were seldom able to penetrate the perplexing mosaic of wishful thinking and denial that camouflaged a brutal regime.

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