Guide Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse

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A two-decade journey, panoramic in scope yet intimate in detail, through the hopes, sorrows, and conflagrations of an unraveled empire and the people living in it. Not with a bang, but with a quiet, ten-minute address on Christmas Day this is how the Soviet Union met its end. Lawrence Scott Sheets, who was then living in Moscow as a young foreign correspondent, went to the center of the capital to witness the response.

One would not have known that million people had just become citizens of other countries. Some of the emergent new countries began to shed totalitarianism, while others sought to revive their own dead empires or were led by barely or totally unreformed ex-Soviet leaders who built equally or even more repressive political machines.

Eight Pieces of Empire draws readers into the people, politics and day-to-day life in the region, painting a vivid portrait of a tumultuous time. On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the USSR, Sheets' stories about people living through these tectonic shifts of fortune—a trio of female saboteurs in Chechnya, the chaos of newly independent Georgia in the early s, young hustlers eager to strike it rich in the post-Soviet economic vacuum—reveal the underreported and surprising ways in which the ghosts of empire still haunt these lands and the world.