by Stephen F. Cohen ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 24, 1985
An enlightening, undogmatic introduction to the state of US Soviet relations and Soviet politics. These 24 essays first appeared in The Nation in Cohen's monthly ""sovieticus"" column, which since 1982 has provided a rare journalistic forum in the West for regular discussion of Soviet affairs. The timing here is fortuitious: Cohen, professor of Soviet politics and history at Princeton and author of the groundbreaking Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution, has been able to examine--as they unfold--such key issues as who would succeed Brezhnev and under what terms; would the Soviets enact reforms similar to those underway in other Communist countries--particularly in Eastern Europe and China--or continue on the sluggish path charted by Brezhnev; how far would Reagan go in trying to isolate and excoriate the Soviets? How would they react? Cohen's viewpoint is uncommonly reasonable, and his material is as fresh as when it originally appeared. Concerning US-Soviet relations, he states flatly that dâ€štente is both ""imperative and possible."" He says the Reagan administration's hardline policy has ""contributed to political reaction"" in the USSR, and he attributes ""Sovietphobia"" to Americans' unwillingness to acknowledge that ""the Soviet Union has become a legitimate great power with interests and entitlements in world affairs comparable to our own."" As to internal Soviet matters, his choice of subjects in two essays on dissidents is typically illuminating. Instead of highlighting those whose messages are perhaps more palatable here--along the lines of Solzhenitsyn--Cohen discusses Roy Medvedev and the late Yevgeny Gnedin, both Marxists who believe the system needs reforming, not abolishment. This is but one way he sets himself apart from most US media, which he flails for presenting contradictory, simplified, and misleading accounts of the Soviet world. Cohen sets a praiseworthy standard for his self-proclaimed goal of ""mixing scholarship and journalism."" One measure of his success: many readers have accused him of being a ""Soviet apologist""; at the same time, since the column began, the Soviets have denied Cohen a visa.
Pub Date: June 24, 1985
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1985
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