ABOUT THIS BOOK
When the United States and the Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks accords in 1972 it was generally seen as the point at which the USSR achieved parity with the United States. Less than twenty years later the Soviet Union had collapsed, confounding experts who never expected it to happen during their lifetimes. In From Washington to Moscow veteran US Foreign Service officer Louis Sell traces the history of US–Soviet relations between 1972 and 1991 and explains why the Cold War came to an abrupt end. Drawing heavily on archival sources and memoirs—many in Russian—as well as his own experiences, Sell vividly describes events from the perspectives of American and Soviet participants. He attributes the USSR's fall not to one specific cause but to a combination of the Soviet system's inherent weaknesses, mistakes by Mikhail Gorbachev, and challenges by Ronald Reagan and other US leaders. He shows how the USSR's rapid and humiliating collapse and the inability of the West and Russia to find a way to cooperate respectfully and collegially helped set the foundation for Vladimir Putin’s rise.
Louis Sell is a retired Foreign Service officer who served twentyseven years with the US Department of State, specializing in Soviet and Balkan affairs. He is the author of Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, also published by Duke University Press.
"A masterfully written book, From Washington to Moscow offers a comprehensive, magnificent, and primarily chronological narrative of the USSR—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—under the leadership of its General Secretaries—Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, and Mikhail Gorbachev—up to its stupendous collapse, and the ascent of Boris Yeltsin, the First President of the Russian Federation."
-- Sapphire Ng Impeccable Business blog
"[A] rich and readable history.... A rare and intimate look at Gorbachev and the events leading up to his presidency...."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Books on the era abound, but Sell’s account helps remind us what really happened, and in some cases fills in some important gaps. His book combines meticulous use of archival and other sources with telling personal reminiscences and nuanced observations. A particular strength is his grasp of the personalities involved."
-- Edward Lucas Center for European Policy Analysis
"Sell is obviously a talented writer who is able to simplify complicated issues without removing their important subtleties. He also breaks down Cold War arms negotiations to a point where any reader can clearly understand which games each side was playing and who really won or lost despite the final number of missiles. The fact that he was present at many of the negotiations lends a sense of clarity to his writing that is rarely seen on this issue."
-- April Curtis LSE Review of Books
"Methodologically rigorous and qualitative, Sell deploys thorough archival research aided by personal observation, which makes the book a fluid and enjoyable, but serious, read. It is also a welcome departure from contemporary political scholarship, which tends to be mostly quantitative in nature and is often devoid of the historical ‘long views.’"
-- Sumantra Maitra International Affairs
"[A] modest and sensible account of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath. . . ."
-- Robert Cottrell New York Review of Books
"[T]his is a story that is extremely vivid, lively in its detail and persuasive in its assessments, that engagingly recreates what is now a bygone era for many readers and so a world they have difficulty imagining through dry, academic analysis."
-- Robert D. English H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews
"An engaging, detailed narrative of Soviet developments and U.S.-Soviet relations that draws principally on a highly impressive range of memoir and documentary sources, especially Soviet and many unavailable in English, that have appeared since 1991.... I can testify to the meticulous care with which he has constructed his narrative, and to how successfully it weaves together data from those sources and his own lived experience."
-- Thomas W. Simons, Jr Journal of Cold War Studies
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