The Politics of Catastrophe

A case can be made that the Soviet Union collapsed because of the way it treated the environment. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which ruled one sixth of the earth’s surface, squandered the resources of an immensely rich country and created an ecological catastrophe. As much as anything …

The Catastrophe and After

The worst nuclear accident ever to take place began with a safety test. At 1:23 AM on Saturday, April 26, 1986, the operator of Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station started an experiment to see how long a spinning turbine could provide electricity in the event of …

The Scientist and the Tyrant

The publication in Moscow last year of 155 letters by the famous Soviet physicist Peter Kapitsa on science and the organization of science was one of the more dramatic benefits of the policy of glasnost. Most of the letters are addressed to Stalin, Molotov, Beria, Krushchev, and other Soviet officials; …

State of the Union

“The analysis of Soviet policy,” writes Seweryn Bialer in his new book, “is once again a fascinating enterprise.” Ailing and decrepit leaders have been replaced by a young and vigorous general secretary, who says he wants to shake up the system and drastically improve its performance. Mikhail Gorbachev has criticized …

Field Marshal Stalin

Not long after the red banner of victory had been raised above the Reichstag in May 1945, Stalin began to propound his own version of how the war with Germany had been won. First he claimed that victory should not be attributed solely to the valor of the Red Army, …

How Tough Is the Red Army?

In June 1921, after the Civil War had been won and Soviet power consolidated, Mikhail Frunze, one of the leading Red commanders, urged that a military doctrine be formulated, in order to give direction to the development and training of the Red Army. Trotsky, still the commissar for war, rejected …