Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union

December 13, 2021, 4:00-5:30pm

Join the Wilson Center for a discussion of the circumstances and events that preceded the breakup of the Soviet Union outlined in Vladislav Zubok's new book "Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union."

Thirty years after the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union, Vladislav Zubok offers a major reinterpretation of this event, refuting the notion that the breakup of the Soviet order was inevitable. Instead, Zubok reveals how Gorbachev’s misguided reforms, intended to modernize and democratize the Soviet Union, deprived the government of resources and empowered separatism. "Collapse" argues that the Soviet collapse was primarily a domestic affair, yet the United States also played an extraordinary and poorly-understood role.

A world-leading expert on the USSR and the Cold War, Vladislav Zubok grew up in Moscow, in 1993-2012 lived and taught history in the United States. His best-known books include "Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War" (with C. Pleshakov, 1996), "A Failed Empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev" (2007) and "Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia" (2009). He is now professor of international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Notably, Dr. Zubok has been a fellow with the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program three times.


Vladislav Zubok, Fellow, Wilson Center; Professor of International History, London School of Economics

Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program, Cold War International History Project, North Korea Documentation project, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Wilson Center

Eric Arnesen, Former Fellow, Wilson Center; Professor of History, The George Washington University; Director, National History Center of the American Historical Association

William Taubman, Former Fellow, Wilson Center; Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Amherst College

Dina Fainberg, Associate Professor of Modern History, City University of London