Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917

In This Review

Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917

By Stephen F. Cohen
Oxford, 1985
240 pp. $17.95

Professor Cohen takes out after a whole generation of fellow Sovietologists and their latter-day followers for their one-dimensional, grey consensus on the nature of the Soviet polity-in brief, the totalitarian model. He castigates their neglect of the relevance of history to politics, which would have shown the variety of political aims, the clash of opposing views, and the continuing choices which were and are the actuality. He illustrates his argument with discussion of Bolshevism vs. Stalinism in the 1920s and 1930s, reform vs. neo-Stalinism in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras, and the contention of conservatism and reformism in the present day. This is revisionism with a vengeance, and Cohen has his own bias, but he is a solid and careful scholar, and his book is a challenge to others to do some rethinking of their own.

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