Sheila Fitzpatrick, 27 January 2020
Peter Reddaway wasn’t surprised by the Soviet Union’s collapse or, for that matter, by any of the twists and turns of Soviet policy and fortunes over the previous thirty years related in his memoir. Good was bound to win out in the conflict with evil. Joshua blew his trumpet bravely for a few decades, and finally the walls came tumbling down. The collapse of the Soviet Union was – apparently – a victory for the dissident cause. That moment, 1991, is indeed the right one for Reddaway’s memoir to end on. Carry the narrative any further – to 2001, 2011 or even in prospect to 2021 – and it would have to stop being a story of dissident triumph and become yet another story of defeat, given the virtual obliteration of the dissident cause and even memory in the post-Soviet Russian Federation. But then again, does that really matter? Perhaps Soviet dissent was always less remarkable as an actual political movement in the domestic context than for the magnified reflection it gained in international media.