Donald Rayfield

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union

By

Oneworld 496pp £25 order from our bookshop

What Vladimir Putin has called the greatest disaster of the 20th century most of the Western world call its greatest success: over six months the Soviet Union imploded, causing as little collateral damage as a professionally demolished tower block. Whatever we have to worry about now in the world is no threat to our sleep, unlike during the forty years before 1991, when one did not have to be paranoid to fear global annihilation in a Soviet–NATO nuclear war. Whether the USSR is truly the last empire to collapse might, however, be disputed: China, no matter how large its Han majority, still has colonial subjects – Uighurs, Mongols and Tibetans – dreaming of independence.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter