The Soviet Union Under Brezhnev provides an accessible post-Soviet perspective on the history of the USSR from the mid-1960’s to the mid-1980’s. It challenges both the ‘evil empire’ image of the USSR that was widespread in the early 1980’s and the ‘stagnation’ label attached to the period by Soviet reformers under Gorbachev.

The book makes use of a range of memoirs, interviews, archival documents and other sources not available before 1990 to place Brezhnev and his epoch in a broader historical context. The author:

    examines high politics, foreign policy and policy making
    explores broader social, cultural and demographic trends
    presents a picture of Soviet society in the crucial decades prior to the upheavals and crises of the late 1980’s

While stopping well short of a full-scale rehabilitation of Brezhnev, Tompson rejects the prevailing image of the Soviet leader as a colourless non-entity, drawing attention to Brezhnev’s real political skills, as well as his faults, and to the systemic roots of many of the problems he faced.

part One|11 pages


chapter Chapter One|9 pages

The Soviet Union at the End of the Khrushchev Era

part Two|96 pages


chapter Chapter Two|11 pages

Leadership Politics

chapter Chapter Three|9 pages

Policy-Making in the Brezhnev Era

chapter Chapter Four|15 pages

Foreign Policy from Cuba to Helsinki

chapter Chapter Five|14 pages

From Helsinki to the Second Cold War

chapter Chapter Six|11 pages

Economic Policy under Brezhnev and Kosygin

chapter Chapter Seven|11 pages

Economic Performance

chapter Chapter Eight|12 pages

Socio-Economic and Demographic Change

chapter Chapter Nine|11 pages

Culture and Ideas

part Three|10 pages


chapter Chapter Ten|8 pages

Brezhnev’s Legacy to Gorbachev

part Four|28 pages