A Failed Empire

The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev

Paperback Edition

By Vladislav M. Zubok

With a New Preface by the Author

504 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 illus, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5958-2
    Published: February 2009
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9905-2
    Published: February 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8535-7
    Published: February 2009

New Cold War History

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Awards & distinctions

2008 Marshall Shulman Book Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies

A Washington Post Book World Best selection

In this widely praised book, Vladislav Zubok argues that Western interpretations of the Cold War have erred by exaggerating either the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness. Explaining the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the twentieth century. Using recently declassified Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, diaries, and taped conversations, among other sources, Zubok offers the first work in English to cover the entire Cold War from the Soviet side. A Failed Empire provides a history quite different from those written by the Western victors. In a new preface for this edition, the author adds to our understanding of todayโ€™s events in Russia, including who the new players are and how their policies will affect the state of the world in the twenty-first century.

About the Author

Vladislav M. Zubok is associate professor of history at Temple University. He is coauthor of Anti-Americanism in Russia: From Stalin to Putin and Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev.
For more information about Vladislav M. Zubok, visit the Author Page.


"Fluently and authoritatively told." โ€”International History Review

โ€œ[A Failed Empire] draw[s] on abundant new primary sources to refine our understanding of the Cold War, turning it from a melodrama into a nuanced tragedy. . . . Rich in new information and fresh interpretation. Zubok reveals the full extent of Stalin's brutal post-World War II suppression of the Soviet People.โ€โ€”Washington Post Book World

โ€œMake[s] use of significant new primary sources but also offer[s]a more inclusive approach with respect to the considerations shaping policy on both sides.โ€โ€”American Historical Review

"Ranks as the new standard work on the Soviet Union's Cold Warโ€” for scholars and students alike. . . . An excellent combination of old and new, offering both a synthetic interpretation of Soviet foreign policy in the latter half of the twentieth century and fresh new material to reconceptualize the factors behind that policy. . . . An important book [and] a standout."โ€”Journal of American History

"An excellent survey of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War, one which draws on a wide range of memoirs, secondary literature, and the still-patchy archival record."โ€”Russian Review

"Zubok has been prominent amongst those reassessing Soviet foreign policy through the newly available primary sources. . . . [A Failed Empire] extends the story to the end of the Cold War and provides an excellent overview of the whole period."โ€”International Journal