Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize

2008 Citation Recipient

Vladislav Zubok

The Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize, established in 1987 and sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe published in the previous calendar year. The prize is dedicated to the encouragement of high-quality studies of the international behavior of the countries of the former Communist Bloc.

Winner: Vladislav Zubok
Title: A Failed Empire: The Soviet in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (UNC Press, New Cold War History Series)

Vladislav Zubok has written the most thorough, clear, and engaging account of the Soviet side of the cold war to appear yet in English. He relies on a very rich Russian and American source base, including Politburo records, ciphered telegrams, private papers, and diaries as well as a wide range of secondary sources. Zubok taps many new sources and he makes very good use of existing ones. The book is well structured and well argued. It provides a convincing analysis of the roles of individual Soviet leaders, ideology, historical experiences, economics, and other factors in influencing Soviet foreign policy during the cold war.

Zubok’s chapter on Gorbachev is the most detailed, balanced and persuasive account of what was happening and why in this crucial period that we have seen. After examining the contending explanations for the end of the cold war, Zubok provides a fascinating, close-up look at the ways in which Gorbachev’s policies and personality led to the end of the cold war and the collapse of the USSR.

One learns a tremendous amount from this book, and we expect it to be widely used in research and teaching by historians and political scientists and all those who are interested in the history of the USSR.