An examination of political, social and cultural developments.
Kenez (history, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) has distilled the voluminous literature on the Soviet Union's 75-year history to a succinct and factual summary. Throughout, Kenez emphasizes economics, creating an image of a hollow superpower that could neither feed its population nor produce a reasonable supply of consumer goods owing to its concentration on the defense industry. A secondary emphasis is on the cultural life of the era, discussing the films and literature of different periods. There is little on the 1917 revolution and only a short analysis of why the Soviet Union ultimately failed to thrive. Sources in the bibliography are primarily in English. Still, this is a valuable reading assignment for undergraduate survey courses that academic libraries should consider.--Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York