Email this review


Soviet scholar Hough takes a revisionist turn in this searching examination of the Gorbachev accession. In bold and illuminating reading of glasnost, Hough argues that Gorbachev is in power to stay, that his reforms are real and far-reaching, and that his overtures to Europe and Japan portend a fundamental realignment in global power-relations. Stressing the importance of generational politics in accounting for the rise of Gorbachev, Hough offers an especially provocative reinterpretation of Soviet history. The era from Lenin to Brezhnev, he maintains, is best characterized as an ""unnatural break with Russian history""--the Khomeini revolution of Russian history. Now, however, the xenophobia and rigidity that distinguished the ""revolutionary guards"" has been replaced by a West-tropism of an educated middle-class eager for a fundamental restructuring of Soviet society. In a brilliant dissection of the political, economic, and intellectual forces pressing for change, Hough argues that Gorbachev's program entails nothing less than the ""fundamental repudiation of the essence of the revolution."" This ""return of Russia toward that which is normal to it"" raises serious difficulties for the US, according to Hough. Razing the Iron Curtain is, ironically, something the American government is not prepared to face: ""the politics of changing America's relationship to Russia will be perhaps even more difficult than changing Russia's relationship to the West."" Because we have underestimated Gorbachev and overestimated his conservative opposition (whose ""political back has been broken""), the US will be hard pressed to adapt to the insecurity and uncertainty that awaits it once the ""multi-polar"" world Gorbachev is striving to realize comes into existence. An intrepid, brilliant work that exposes the true roots of Soviet history--and American contempt for that history; an important contribution to the understanding of East-West relations.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster