Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cold War History from the Soviet Side: 'Failed Empire' Author Zubok Visits Washington College

Chestertown, MD — Washington College's Conrad Wingate Memorial Lecture Series presents "The Soviet Union: America's Worst Enemy?"—a talk by Vladislav Zubok, Associate Professor of History at Temple University, in the Litrenta Lecture Hall on Tuesday, November 6, at 5:30 p.m. A booksigning will follow.

Dr. Zubok is the author of the newly published A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War From Stalin to Gorbachev; he also is co-author of Anti-Americanism in Russia: From Stalin to Putin and the prize-winning Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev.

O.A. Wested, author of The Global Cold War, hailed Dr. Zubok's new book as "an excellent overview of Soviet foreign policy and a forceful explanation of why Communism collapsed, centering on Gorbachev's mistakes and misjudgments."

The first work in English to cover the entire Cold War from the Soviet side, A Failed Empireprovides a history different from those written by the Western victors.

Dr. 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, Dr. Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the 20th century.

Using recently declassified Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, diaries, taped conversations and other sources, Dr. Zubok explores the origins of the superpowers' confrontation under Stalin, Khrushchev's contradictory and counterproductive attempts to ease tensions, the surprising story of Brezhnev's passion for détente, and Gorbachev's destruction of the Soviet superpower as the by-product of his hasty steps to end the Cold War and to reform the Soviet Union.

In reviewing A Failed Empire, the History Book Club enthused, "Zubok has taken on a huge challenge in attempting to narrate the entire evolution of the Cold War from the perspective of the apex of power in Moscow. He succeeds admirably. ... This is a book that can be read by the specialist and generalist alike. ... The book should reignite serious discussion about the causes of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which is the subject of his interesting conclusion."

The Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecture in History is held in honor of the late Conrad Meade Wingate '23, brother of late Washington College Visitor Emeritus Phillip J. Wingate '33 and the late Carolyn Wingate Todd. He was principal of Henderson (MD) High School at the time of his death from cerebrospinal meningitis at age 27. At Washington College, he was president of the Dramatic Association, president of the Adelphia Literary Society and vice president of the Student Council in 1922-23.

Litrenta Lecture Hall is located in the John S. Toll Science Center. Admission to "The Soviet Union: America's Worst Enemy?" is free and open to the public.

October 24, 2007

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