Alex Pravda and his contributors examine two processes - the decline of the internal empire and the disintegration of the external one - to show how the current structural problems faced by Eastern Europe developed. Major topics examined in depth include: the dramatic changes in relations between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the mid-1980s; the evolution of Soviet policy towards the region and Gorbachev's practice of leadership in terms of how they affected Soviet strategy; the events leading to the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance. There are also detailed chapters covering developments in bilateral relations between the Soviet Union and Poland, Hungary, German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
`Changes in Soviet foreign policy under Mikhail Gorbachev are widely accepted as being one of the major factors in the fall of the communist regimes in Europe. Alex Pravda and the other authors of this readable collection of essays work from inside the assumprions to put it in its proper military, economic and more general foreign policy context... For an edited collection of essays the narrative flows between chapters extremely well so that one is left with the impression that there was nothing that could be done to create a partnership between the USSR and the European communist states based on consensus and shared aims. The result is an excellent summary of the end of Soviet interests in Eastern Europe. It is a useful reminder if the complexity of reforming communist systems for experts and an accessible introduction to this area of Soviet foreign policy for undergraduates' - Journal of Communist Studies