This was a prescient book when first published in German in 1986. Sensitive to the growing self-assertion of national elites in the Soviet Union, Simon's study traces better than any other the background of this summer's Soviet collapse. With a minimum of fuss and excess, he leads the reader from the 1920s and the original Bolshevik notions of nation-building in the non-Russian lands through the 1970s and the flowering of a "new nationalism" in the republics. By then Stalin's harsh policies of modernization and integration, like Khrushchev's more sophisticated and moderate sequel, were proving to contain the seeds of their own failure. The drama, as Simon correctly foresaw, would begin in the Baltic and spread west to east.