Ten Minute History – The Decline and Dissolution of the Soviet Union (Short Documentary)
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This episode of Ten Minute History (like a documentary, only shorter) covers the USSR after the death of Stalin. It covers its peak under Khrushchev during the Cold War and the Space Race and his attempted reforms before his ousting after the Cuban Missile Crisis. His replacement, Brezhnev, attempted to undo these reforms but spurned the Era of Stagnation which saw the Soviet economy stall. Gorbachev took over and attempted many sweeping reforms which went awry which culminated in the sudden breakup of the USSR and the establishment of the Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin.
Tony Judt – Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. Probably the go-to work on the Cold War in Europe. Particularly good for the Warsaw Pact. Highly Recommended.
Stephen Lovell – Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction. A great overview of the entire USSR and its history. Recommended for any beginner to the period.
Geoffrey Hoskings – A History of the Soviet Union. This is an older work (from the 90s) and excludes some of the more recent discoveries since the opening of the Soviet archives. However, it’s still the best one-volume work on the USSR available in my opinion.