The USSR may no longer exist, but its history remains highly relevant—perhaps today more so than ever. Yet it is a history which for a long time proved impossible to write, not simply due to the lack of accessible documentation, but also because it lay at the heart of an ideological confrontation which obscured the reality of the Soviet regime.
In The Soviet Century, Moshe Lewin traces this history in all its complexity, drawing widely upon archive material previously unavailable. Highlighting key factors such as demography, economics, culture and political repression, Lewin guides us through the inner workings of a system which is still barely understood. In the process he overturns widely held beliefs about the USSR's leaders, the State-Party system and the Soviet bureaucracy, the "tentacled octopus" which held the real power.
Departing from a simple linear history, The Soviet Century takes in all the continuities and ruptures that led, via a complex route, from the founding revolution of October 1917 to the final collapse of the late 1980s and early 1990s, passing through the Stalinist dictatorship and the impossible reforms of the Khrushchev years.
Many of us are still feeling shaken by the death of the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union Moshe Lewin. Lewin's work was fundamental to the development of a new approach to the history of the Russian Revolution that broke with Cold War orthodoxies. Verso was very proud to publish his last book The Soviet Century and hopes that all of his work will be made available again to a new generation of readers.