The conventional story of the end of the Cold War is simple: Ronald Reagan waged an aggressive campaign against communism, outspent his opponent, and forced Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."
In There Is No Freedom Without Bread!, Russian-born historian Constantine Pleshakov proposes a different interpretation. The revolutions that took place in 1989 were the result of politicking, tensions between Moscow and local governments, compromise between revolutionary leaders and communist old-timers, and the will and anger of the people. In a dramatic narrative culminating in that whirlwind year, Pleshakov challenges the received wisdom and argues that 1989 was as much about national civil wars and internal struggles for power as it was about the Eastern Europeans throwing off the yoke of Moscow.
“Pleshakov has not only the guts to enter but also the instincts to find his way. His explanation of the 1989 collapse respects the complexity of Eastern Europe, yet his account is both clear and beautifully lyrical. His greatest strength lies in not being burdened by doctrine. . . .Of all the books that mark this anniversary, [There Is No Freedom Without Bread] is one that must be read. Pleshakov writes history with a human face.” —Gerard DeGroot, The Washington Post
“Enlightening . . . rich historical detail.” —Mother Jones
“A breath of fresh air . . . chock-full of revelatory details.” —Russian Life
“A savvier, richer take than the usual hymns to national liberation.” —Publishers Weekly
“Pleshakov embeds original perspectives into a lively narrative . . . The human factor comes out in this readable rendition of the end of communism.” —Gilbert Taylor, Booklist