The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dissolved with a whimper, not a bang. And in the context of history, the collapse was sudden and unexpected. Even the most prolific and respected Sovietologists failed to accurately predict the end of the USSR. John Lewis Gaddis, an American Soviet scholar at Yale University, was still writing about the strength of the Soviet system as it was collapsing at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. In books published in 1992 (The United States and the Cold War) and 1997 (We Now Know), he reflected that the Soviet collapse was not only sudden, but surprising. The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War were due to both internal and external factors, not the least of which was military spending in addition to military overextension. 1