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How the Soviet Union Is Governed

How the Soviet Union Is Governed

Jerry F. Hough, Merle Fainsod

ISBN 9780674410305

Publication date: 03/01/1979

This is a new and thorough revision of a recognized classic whose first edition was hailed as the most authoritative account in English of the governing of the Soviet Union. Now, with historical material rearranged in chronological order, and with seven new chapters covering most of the last fifteen years, this edition brings the Soviet Union fully into the light of modern history and political science.

The purposes of Fainsod's earlier editions were threefold: to explain the techniques used by the Bolsheviks and Stalin to gain control of the Russian political system; to describe the methods they employed to maintain command; and to speculate upon the likelihood oftheir continued control in the future. This new edition increases very substantially the attention paid to another aspect of the political process—how policy is formed, how the Soviet Union is governed. Whenever possible, Mr. Hough attempts to analyze the alignments and interrelationships between Soviet policy institutions. Moreover, he constantly moves beyond a description of these institutions to probe the way they work. Two chapters are devoted to the questions of individual political participation. Other chapters examine the internal organization of institutions and explore the ways in which the backgrounds of their officials influence their policy positions and alliances. The picture that emerges is an unprecedented account of the distribution of power in the Soviet Union.


  • Like Fainsod before him, Professor Hough seeks not merely to describe the formal apparatus of power, but to portray the way things actually work—the informal channels through which groups and social forces have impact on Soviet politics at all levels. This is a lively and authoritative work that will be essential for anyone trying to understand the Soviet Union today.

    —S. Frederick Starr


  • Jerry F. Hough is the James B. Duke Professor of Political Science at Duke University.

Book Details

  • 693 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press