Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse (Paperback)

Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse By Lawrence Scott Sheets Cover Image

Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse (Paperback)


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“[An] unforgettable memoir” (Boston Globe) that provides a window into the wildly divergent nations that once comprised the Soviet Union, from a former NPR reporter
Not with a bang, but with a quiet, ten-minute address on Christmas Day, 1991: this is how the Soviet Union met its end. But in the wake of that one deceptively calm moment, conflict and violence soon followed. Some of the emergent new countries began to shed totalitarianism while other sought to revive their own dead empires or were led by ex-Soviet leaders who built equally or even more repressive political machines. Since the late 1980s, Lawrence Scott Sheets lived and reported from the former USSR and saw firsthand the reverberations of the empire’s collapse, through the rise of Vladimir Putin in the new Russia. Eight Pieces of Empire draws readers into the people, politics and day-to-day life, painting a vivid portrait of a tumultuous time.

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 1990s, a defiant resident of the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine, 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.

Lawrence Scott Sheets reported for National Public Radio for seven years and was NPR’s Moscow bureau chief from 2001-2005, covering the entire former USSR. He was Caucasus region bureau chief for Reuters from 1992-2000 and a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 2000-2001. He also worked for NBC News in Moscow during 1992 and his work has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and heard on the BBC World Service, Public Radio International, and other news outlets. Sheets is currently South Caucasus Project Director of the International Crisis Group, focusing on Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.

Product Details ISBN: 9780307395832
ISBN-10: 0307395839
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: October 30th, 2012
Pages: 336
Language: English

Eight Pieces of Empire is a unique, readable, and bracing work of eyewitness history by a brave foreign correspondent who risked his safety and more to document it.”The New Republic

“Lawrence Sheets is a foreign correspondent whose bravery exceeds one’s comprehension. . . . He has produced some of the most gripping war correspondence I have ever read.”The Washington Times

“Unforgettable memoir and travelogue of a period and a place most of us would prefer to forget . . . [gives] meaning, and perspective, to the rocky transition of the past two decades, and infuses it with drama and despair . . . vital and vivid.”The Boston Globe

“An invaluable eyewitness account of the traumas of the Soviet collapse told through the lives of those who were caught up in it and often buried under it. The book is written with a disarming honesty, sympathy and humility.”The Economist

“A vivid, largely anecdotal account of the chaos and confusion that has followed in the two decades since the fall of the massive communist entity that once obsessed America. It leaves the reader hungry for more.”Associated Press

“Sheets’ suite of incidents bespeaks his Russian-fluent immersion among people unmoored by the Soviet collapse, a quality watchers of the Russian scene will appreciate.”Booklist

“In an era when the media establishment supports foreign reporting less and less, Lawrence Sheets has lived a life of utter seriousness as a foreign correspondent: concentrating on one broad area—the former Soviet Union—in order to develop subject expertise, and then dedicating himself to indefatigable ground-level coverage of that area. Forget the pundits and the scandalmongers, this is a real journalist.”—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Good American

“Few Westerners understand the post-Soviet soul like Lawrence Sheets. Whether it is his hair-raising stories of the region’s myriad armed conflicts or the black humor with which he captures the moral and physical impoverishment of a collapsing empire, Sheets brilliantly condenses twenty tumultuous years into an eminently readable tale."—Matthew Brzezinski, author of Red Moon Rising

“To capture the human cost of fallen empire with all its horror and absurdity, Sheets offers the right combination: the political insight of a top reporter and the power of a novelist.”—Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park and other books

“With Eight Pieces of Empire, Lawrence Scott Sheets brings a journalist’s watchful eye, an essayist’s sense of humor, and a scholar’s mind to the legacy of Soviet empire in all its color and complexity. This book is a great read, and its images linger in the mind long after the cover is closed.”—Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and author of The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?

“This may read like a mad journey through some of the most dangerous places on earth, but it is much more than that as well. Sheets witnessed most of the wars, disasters, and revolutions that followed the end of communism, and his accounts of them—from Chechnya to Chernobyl, and from Abkhazia to Afghanistan—serve as a passionate but considered obituary for the vanished Soviet empire.”—Oliver Bullough, author of Let Our Fame Be Great

“War reporter Lawrence Sheets’s edgy memoir evokes exactly the fatalism, confusion, and centrifugal forces that suddenly broke up the Soviet Union two decades ago. Refreshingly free of faraway theorizing, this book focuses on what people actually saw and experienced in those years.”—Hugh Pope, author of Dining with al-Qaeda

“Dean of the Moscow press corps Lawrence Scott Sheets has been everywhere and seen it all. Funny, engaged, and humane, he is a matchless guide to the tattered remnants of the Soviet empire.”—Anna Reid, author of Borderland and The Shaman’s Coat