Into the Book


There are some books which are quite fascinating to read, but also quite difficult to get through. Down with Big Brother: the Fall of the Soviet Union, by Michael Dobbs, is one of these books. This book covers in detail the Soviet sphere of influence during Mikhail Gorbachev’s days as General Secretary of the Soviet Union. The amount of information which it carries between its two covers is stunning.

More than simply telling that the Soviet Union fell apart, a fact we all know, Michael Dobbs goes more in depth, and analyzes why the Soviet Union fell apart. His expose of events that is five hundred pages long gives him a large sample space from which he draws his conclusions. Basically, he decides that it is not surprising that the Soviet Union fell so suddenly. Rather, he decides it is surprising that it held together for so long. His specific timeline of events and revealing facts about Gorbachev counter the reasoning many people hold about the USSR and its eventual fall.

I found this book very difficult to read, and I read at a college level. There is a lot of obscure vocabulary and the sheer length of the book – five hundred pages, makes it a difficult read. It took me about two or three weeks to plow through this volume. The chapters are short, however, and you can knock out three or four in a short sitting. Each chapter takes place and is named after a specific location, and represents a single scene in the entire story told by the book.

As with all books I read, this book was not perfect. There are quite a few instances of curse words within this book, and there is also several incidents of violence described in detail. For this reason and for the difficulty of the book, I definitely don’t recommend this book to anyone below highs-chool level. Even high-school students, such as I, would likely find the book difficult.

I highly recommend this book to any student of history, but particularly history students interested in the Soviet Union. This book is extremely eye-opening and helps the reader to understand some of the motivations of the everyday Joe, men such as Walesa and Kravchuk who helped lead the everyday man to protesting the situation which they found themselves in. Again, I highly recommend this book for its historical value.

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Published on 23 June, 2011. Last updated on


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