In his new book Andrea Graziosi tells the story of the USSR from its origins to its triumph over Nazi Germany. For this first time ever, this account uses material that has been come available only recently, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. So this is a novel version, different and yet no less credible than preceding ones, of a history that has fascinated and frightened millions. The book addresses two distinct, thoroughly different dictatorships, headed by Lenin and Stalin; two world wars; a civil war and a war initiated in 1929 and waged by a regime against its own people; two extensive famines in the 1931-33 period; and the greatest campaign of pre-emptive terror ever undertaken in Europe in times of peace. The great Soviet "experiment" is explained with references to ideology; the frames of mind and behaviour of the governing elite, peasants, workers, women, and intellectuals; the capabilities and constraints associated with an atypical economic system; the role of nationalism; and the influence exercised by the Soviet Union with traditional means, but also via the extraordinary appeal generated by the last great Western utopia. In the year 2008 this book will be followed by a second volume devoted to Soviet history from 1945 to 1991.
Andrea Graziosi teaches Contemporary History at the Federico II University in Naples.