China’s role in Soviet policy-making

Why should we want to read yet another thumping great book about the collapse of the Soviet empire? Sergey Radchenko attempts an answer in his well-constructed new work. Based on recently opened Soviet archives and on extensive work in the Chinese archives, it places particular weight on China’s role in Soviet policy-making. The details are colourful. It is fun to know that Mao Tse-Tung sent Stalin a present of spices, and that the mouse on which the Russians tested it promptly died. But the new material forces no major revision of previous interpretations. Perhaps the book is best seen as a meditation on the limitations of political power. Stalin and