56. The Fall Of The USSR (Part 2)

In this episode we discuss the destructive effects of Gorbachev’s reforms, both in the satellite Soviet countries and in Russia itself, culminating in the formal dissolution of the USSR. Dan McGinnis returns as guest.

6 thoughts on “56. The Fall Of The USSR (Part 2)”

  1. Luis Rodríguez-Bachiller Villaronga says:

    I begun listening to your show a few months ago, so I am a little behind schedule in writing this comment. First of all I would like to congratulate you and to encourage you to keep up the excellent job you do with this podcast. I am Spanish, I live in Spain and english is not my native language, so I apologize for any mistakes I might commit.
    While listening to this episode, it seemed to me that there was some confussion in sepparating the Soviet Union (USSR) from the countries forming the communist or eastern block, merging the whole eastern europe in one sole country. For a european citizen this a very clear concept: The Soviet Union or USSR was one independent country formed by a coalition of 15 republics under the leadership of Russia (one of the 15), but this republics did not include Hungary, Chzecoslovaquia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Eastern Germany, Yugoslavia or Albania. This were independent countries, although they were under the political influence and strict supervision of the USSR (and were also part of the Warsaw Pact). Perhaps I am mistaken, but in several ocasions in the narrative, I have understood that you mention events in Hungary, Prague or Poland as occurring in the USSR, which is geographically and politically incorrect.
    This is a very complex and broad issue in european history, and each country probably deserves a whole episode in which to narrate their time under communist rule, how and when they became part of the communist world and how they seceded, but I felt some basic concepts needed a little punctualization.
    I hope you find this comment helpful and I thank you for the many hours of entertainment that your podcast has proportioned me in the last months. Keep up the good work!

    1. Adam says:

      Hi Luis,

      Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful comment. Please don’t feel compelled to apologize for your English; it’s better than many native speakers I’ve met!

      I’ve had other listeners make very similar comments on this episode before, and you’re absolutely right: I was extremely unclear at times about the difference between the USSR proper and the federation of eastern bloc states. Being a member of the Warsaw Pact did not induct a state into the USSR, despite significant political and military influence. It’s not exactly a straightforward arrangement, and I slipped a number of times. I do wish I’d done a better job of describing those relationships. It’s an easy mistake to make on a show without a script, and I’m glad it doesn’t happen more often, but any lapses in accuracy are painful.

      I sincerely appreciate your comment, which does a good job of clarifying some of the errors I made in this episode, and am very glad that you’re enjoying the show so far. Hopefully you don’t encounter too many more mistakes, but if you do, please let me know!

      All the best,


  2. OganM says:

    Fun fact: you can also buy berlin wall in homeopatic form

    1. Adam says:

      Hahaha of course you can! Why not, I suppose – not much surprises me when it comes to homeopathy. Any idea what it’s supposed to cure?

  3. Aaditya Rajbhandari says:

    Hi, I’m a big fan! I only found out about your podcast few months ago. And now I’m already at episode 56. Because of the previous episodes I guess I have very high expectations from you. That’s why I was kind of disappointed when you didn’t make a distinction between the Warsaw Pact nations and the USSR. But, others have already commented about it. Also I share your amazement of learning about fall of Soviet Union. I was born at the very end 1988 and I must have already been 10-11 when I first learned about the collapse. My surprise was that all this happened within my life time and there was no visible aftermath besides replacement of flags! USSR was one half of the duopoly that defined international relations since the end of WWII! And it ended in an unusual way unlike collapse of other famous empires in history. Another thing is that I’ve read articles saved by my dad about that time and I’ve tried to find out more but can’t really figure out how Russia centric USSR actually was. It was ruled by a Georgian for 29 years and a Ukrainian for 18 years for its 69 years. That makes it seems like it wasn’t very Russia centric. Please share if you have more information about it. Thank you! Love your podcast!

    1. Adam says:

      Hey, thank you for your feedback! As you noted, a bunch of people have called me out on this point about the Warsaw Pact vs the USSR, and it’s definitely one of the biggest mistakes I let into an episode to date. I really appreciate everyone keeping me honest on this stuff!

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