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Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse #2020

Eight Pieces of Empire A Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse A two decade journey panoramic in scope yet intimate in detail through the hopes sorrows and conflagrations of an unraveled empire and the people living in it Not with a bang but with a quiet te

  • Title: Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse
  • Author: Lawrence Scott Sheets
  • ISBN: 9780307395825
  • Page: 139
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse By Lawrence Scott Sheets, A two decade journey, panoramic in scope yet intimate in detail, through the hopes, sorrows, and conflagrations of an unraveled empire and the people living in it.Not with a bang, but with a quiet, ten minute address on Christmas Day 1991 this is how the Soviet Union met its end Lawrence Scott Sheets, who was then living in Moscow as a young foreign correspondent, went tA two decade journey, panoramic in scope yet intimate in detail, through the hopes, sorrows, and conflagrations of an unraveled empire and the people living in it.Not with a bang, but with a quiet, ten minute address on Christmas Day 1991 this is how the Soviet Union met its end Lawrence Scott Sheets, who was then living in Moscow as a young foreign correspondent, went to the center of the capital to witness the response In the streets around Red Square, he writes, life went on as usual One would not have known that 300 million people had just become citizens of other countries But in the wake of that one deceptively calm moment, conflict and violence soon followed Some of the emergent new countries began to shed totalitarianism, while others sought to revive their own dead empires or were led by barely or totally unreformed ex Soviet leaders who built equally or even repressive political machines Since the late 1980s, Sheets lived and reported from the former USSR and saw firsthand the reverberations of the collapse of empire across Russia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, and Chechnya Eight Pieces of Empire draws readers into the people, politics and day to day life in the region, painting a vivid portrait of a tumultuous time.On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the USSR, Sheets stories about people living through these tectonic shifts of fortune a trio of female saboteurs in Chechnya, the chaos of newly independent Georgia in the early 1990s, young hustlers eager to strike it rich in the post Soviet economic vacuum reveal the underreported and surprising ways in which the ghosts of empire still haunt these lands and the world.

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    1 thought on “Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse

    1. In its beginning was its end Actually that s not quite true the Soviet Union came in with a bang and out with a whimper Even so the two events were united, a long, slow motion curtain call for the old Russian imperium Aleksandr Kugel, a Russian theatre critic and editor, writing a few months after the Bolshevik coup in 1917 put the matter rather well The dying process has begun Everything we see now is just part of the agony Bolshevism is the death of Russia And a body the size of Russia cannot [...]

    2. When I declared my undergraduate major, one of the required courses I would have to take senior year was Soviet Foreign Policy However, by the time senior year rolled around, there was no Soviet Union, and the course had been haphazardly reconstructed as a seminar given by two visiting professors from Moscow on the Commonwealth of Independent States In this book, a journalist who covered Russia and the former Soviet republics in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR provides a fragmentar [...]

    3. I have to say, this book was really not what I thought it was going to be After a solid start, Sheets gets bogged down in the wars in the Caucasus and Central Asia, which makes for a very different book This is not to say that these are not terribly important, just that it seems kind of ridiculous to call this a Journey Through the Soviet Collapse if nearly half of the book focuses on Georgia When he does adventure outside of these regions, these sections are not written nearly as well, are not [...]

    4. I received an uncorrected proof for free in a giveawayLawrence Scott Shields spent the last twenty years watching the Soviet Union disintegrate into a disparate array of states, many in disarray This memoir collects some of his experiences as a reporter for Reuters and NPR Mostly set in the failing southern, largely muslim states, Shields brings a refreshingly contextual view to a number of events that were poorly covered by the American media when they occurred.As a memoir, it s neither a compl [...]

    5. Eight Pieces of Empire is a fascinating look at the breakdown of the former U.S.S.R through the eyes of an American journalist This was the perfect book for me, since I love travel and politics, non fiction, and memoirs this book is all of those things wrapped up in about three hundred pages Not that it is a completely comprehensive history of that period, by any means It s like one American s experience in a somewhat mysterious and misunderstood corner of the planet.I loved this book The topic [...]

    6. Sheets was everywhere in Chechnya during the school hostage tragedy in emptied villages around Chernobyl where a few people live on Sakhalin Island with a vanishing tribal culture of reindeer herders and in dozens of battles and skirmishes as the former Soviet Union disintegrated Oh, OK, he couldn t get into Turkmenistan But he was able to cross from Uzbekistan into Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 NPR and Reuters sent him to cover the stories, and he shares them with us Some of them are horrific [...]

    7. The author watched the demise of The USSR from a front row seat in Moscow He was there when Gorbachev took the ailing USSR off life support The end of the Cold War, the world at peace, no senseless bloodletting over ideologies Time would prove that to be a terrible delusion.Over the next 15 years Sheets covered the bloody and turbulent wars that s broke out in various regions of the former Empire He survived the carnage and lived to write about it His perspective and insights into these tragedi [...]

    8. Amazing historical contemporary portrayal of war and strife in the former soviet empire I have always been interested in soviet history and to some extent, Putin s ascension to power This interest is generally drowned in Cold War documentation, which is respectable in it s own right, but not the complete story of the former communist nation Eight Pieces of Empire will chronicle life amongst poverty stricken communists, black market gangsters, a proud survivor of the Nazi invasion, secular insurg [...]

    9. Sheets was a grad student living in an eccentric Soviet collective housing unit in 1989 and had a front row seat for the changes affecting ordinary Russians He came back in the early 90s as a reporter quickly tasked to cover the small and devastating wars that rocked the southern Republics, mostly because he was the only person crazy enough to go This is a memoir, culled from his journalistic pieces, with anecdotes that veer from the bizarre the commander at the frontier crossing who wants a wes [...]

    10. A great firsthand perspective on many important events over the last couple decades in the former Soviet Republics You d have to go elsewhere for much of the historical and cultural context he s swinging a magnifying glass across massive chunks of time and space but the places he decides to spend time are excellent and enlightening The highlight for me were the chapters on Chechnya Sheets does a great job of walking the reader through the phases of the Chechen evolution idealism and a thirst for [...]

    11. Full disclosure before review I won this book through FirstReads.This book in general gets four stars from me Author Sheets is clearly someone who has spent a lot of time in the area of the world he writes about and has a affinity for it He has a reporter s eye for how the story of one person or group of people can reflect a larger world event, like a war He presents a lot of modern history in quick moving, accessible language The proofreading left a lot to be desired in my copy, though I hope w [...]

    12. Some vivid stories from around the former Soviet Union in the process of collapse, which don t quite add up to a whole The author is a war reporter and the anecdotes read as such, choppy, new journalistic, sometimes memorable and striking, sometimes less so The idea is a good one in theory, to tell the story of USSRs collapse in a style that mirrors the reality no coherent narrator, no master plan, no neat chronological narrative to be made of all the tragic, absurd events And yet historians do [...]

    13. Imagine a starving child gazing longingly through a window at a rich candle lit restaurant table, her bare feet in the snow That is what this book is like We get lovely glimpses of a strange world beyond the window, but we never quite get there Almost every chapter concludes at the end of what should rightfully have merely been its scene setter Sheets seems to have strung together his Reuters and NPR pieces, his sub editors were sloppy, his descriptions often banal Yet I gave the book four stars [...]

    14. Good, solid journalistic impressions of the Former Soviet Union Many of the focal events of the last two decades are here i.e Beslan and Chernobyl in Mr Sheets s personal experience, as are the minute but unique details of life in the former USSR The book has some insight on several issues the rest of the world is dealing with today, like the 2008 Georgia War and the continuing trouble in Afghanistan the observations on the way Chechnya went from a nationalist revolt to Islamicist shenanigans ar [...]

    15. We heard about the USSR every scary day of my young life and then, suddenly, it was gone Out of the news Poof Threat vanished and nobody in America is interested any in that part of the world.Or so the Powers That Be seemed to think Not Lawrence Scott Sheets He was out there, dodging bullets in the local wars that flared up all over the former USSR after its demise, and visiting with the locals, and just looking around at the new world that was emerging out of the chaos This book is a fabulous [...]

    16. I was a fortunate winner of a copy of this book through the First Reads program I really enjoyed this compelling eye witness history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and it s suddenly fragmented autonomous regions His perspective as an American journalist abroad plus his intimate history of the region from living there for a large part of his life gave the various wars and conflicts a very unique angle He managed to capture the disintegration of an incredibly powerful empire in a humane, hone [...]

    17. One of the bizarre moments of my life was the realization that the Soviet Union had disappeared and I was standing in Red Square when it happened with only the change of flags to indicate it The resulting confusion is aptly described in Eight Pieces of Empire Some may criticize the essays for being disjointed and lacking a theme but this mirrors the facts on the ground However, he does focus on Georgia and Chechnya give the reader insight into the human motivations behind what appears to be sim [...]

    18. Fabulous BookThe book begins with the story of Georgia, which is why I was drawn to it, but takes the reader through each step and stage of the collapse of the Soviet Union The writer relays his personal experiences as a war correspondent and by allowing us to get to know personally the people he attempts to report on, we vicariously bond with them as well This book turned out to be much than I thought it would be, and I have a much deeper respect and awareness of the place I am currently livin [...]

    19. I liked the book This is a collection of stories that the author has from his travels as a news reporter from approximately 1989 to 2004 throughout many of the former Soviet republics He describes some of the conflicts that he saw over that period, but also discusses some of his ordeals He even visited reindeer herding Ulta reindeer herders in Northern Sakhalin Overall the book contains a lot of interesting stories that were short enough to keep the flow going, yet each story was long enough to [...]

    20. I won this book through a good reads giveaway, thank you Although not typically a book I d probably pick up it s an interesting and in depth look into the 20 year journey through the soviet collapse There are funny parts and historical insight rolled together to construct a vivid and realistic point of view about a very political subject I enjoyed it a lot and it has peaked my interest to research Thank you for expanding my horizons.

    21. Uncle Larry Sheets is a friend and colleague of my brother, Thomas C Goltz, a noted post Soviet Central Asia expert See his books in my Read category here in my account Azerbaijan Diary Chechnya Diary Georgia DiaryI appreciated Uncle Larry s book, but perhaps not as much as I would have but for my prior exposure to the 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union through the filter of my brother s work.Uncle Larry s is a good read for those new to the story.

    22. Sheets provides a snapshot into the collapse of the former USSR and the growing pains many of the emerging nations faced and continue to face For me the book was excellent because I am a history nut, and I love travel literature By focusing on his own experiences Sheets manages to avoid laundry lists of facts and instead emphasizes the human aspect I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in post Cold War history or history in general.

    23. First of all, I won this book from a giveaway thanks I really enjoyed this book because it is a first person account of the violence that swept over the former republics of the USSR The book is hard to put down because it is so gripping The author s stories about the conflicts in areas such as Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, and Chechnya are extremely detailed and full of action This book contains some graphic descriptions that fully show the extent of these conflicts to the reader.

    24. An interesting read I didn t know how the book was structured going in, but it turns out that I learned about some of the obscure parts of the Soviet Empire countries whose names were vaguely familiar to me, but of which I knew none of the details I liked reading about these places in the first person account presented by the author, it made it seem much credible.

    25. An excellent read Informative as to what was actually happening in the former Soviet Republics as they sought their independence At the same time, it gave personal accounts of some of the people whose lives were forever altered in the process A definite must read for anyone interested in the process of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    26. This is or should be a fascinating look at the collapsing Soviet Union The stories ring true but it s not as well written as I would have hoped Sheets was in a lot of very interesting places during this period, speaks russian and lived and worked with ordinary Russians

    27. I m not much of a history reader but this was a very good book A lot of interesting information about what was going on over there at the time with various emotional stories attached I liked how he gave current updates of some of the people he met.

    28. Interesting perspectives from somebody who was on the ground as the Soviet Empire collapsed, however instead of the focus on the various ethnic conflicts the most intriguing parts were when he described how ordinary people s lives were affected.

    29. Geez, I finished this like two weeks ago Poor has been neglected lately I hope I ll have time to review this soon because I really, really liked it

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