The Dream that Failed offers an authoritative assessment of the Soviet era - from the triumph of Lenin to the fall of Gorbachev. In recent years, decades of conventional wisdom about the U.S.S.R. have been swept away, while a flood of evidence from Russian archives demands new thinking about old assumptions. This inquiry is conducted on the grand scale: the author explains how the Bolsheviks won the struggle for power in 1917; how they captured the commitment of a young generation of Russians; why the idealism faded as Soviet power grew; how the system ultimately collapsed; and why Western experts have been wrong about the Communist system. Thoughtful and incisive, Laqueur reflects on the early enthusiasm of foreign observers and Bolshevik revolutionaries for the new Soviet order, then takes a piercing look at the totalitarian nature of the regime. He demonstrates how Communist society stagnated during the 1960s and '70s, while the economy wobbled to the brink; how Western observers, from academic experts to CIA analysts, made wildly optimistic estimates of Moscow's economic and political strength. Just weeks before the U.S.S.R. disappeared from the earth, some scholars were confidently predicting the survival of the Soviet Union. But in underscoring the rot and repression, he also notes that the Communist state did not necessarily have to fall when it did, and he examines the many factors behind the collapse (such as ethnic nationalism and the rigors of an accelerated arms race during the 1980s). Many of these same problems continued to shape the future of Russia and other successor states, and a second coming of national Communism, albeit in a different guise, cannot be ruled out. Only now, in the rubble of this lost empire, is it possible to gain a deeper understanding of the Soviet regime, its early achievements, its crimes and its ultimate disaster. In The Dream that Failed, the result of years of research and reflection, Walter Laqueur sheds fresh light on a central episode in our turbulent century.