In This Review

The Soviet Paradox: External Expansion, Internal Decline
The Soviet Paradox: External Expansion, Internal Decline
By Seweryn Bialer
Knopf, 1986, 372 pp

Professor Bialer has distilled much of his accumulated knowledge and earlier writings into a book that should serve both the general reader and the specialist well. The process of distillation might have been carried further to reduce bulk and repetition, but the facts are there, the opinions are shrewd and well argued (though not beyond dispute), and occasional anecdotes and personal touches help to lighten the text. It is all here: the legacies of Stalin and Khrushchev; the leadership changes of recent years and the Gorbachev agenda; economic problems and the decline of empire; Poland; China; and relations with the United States. Bialer's discussion of the roots of Soviet foreign policy is especially good. The paradox of evergrowing military power and expansionist foreign policy coexisting with insuperable internal problems remains, and is not likely to disappear.