The Soviet Union

with No Comments

Map of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union Lectures

JUL 8 – AUG 19

The first six lectures in this Saturday evening series, presented by Daniel J. Moran, Ph.D., survey the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution to the end of the Cold War. A seventh lecture, presented by Bruce Thompson, Ph.D., traces the history of Russian espionage and intelligence from 1917 to 2017.

The Soviet Union: Rise and Fall

Presented by Daniel J. Moran, Ph.D.

Part 1 (JUL 8)  Revolution and Civil War, 1914-23

The Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia was a consequence of the First World War. The Civil War that followed proved even more destructive of the fabric of life in the now-shattered Russian empire, and decisive in shaping the new Soviet state. TICKETS

Part 2 (JUL 15)  Nation-Building, 1923-39

Soviet weakness was as important as revolutionary ideology in undermining international stability in the 1920s and 30s. Stalin’s efforts to remedy that weakness made the USSR into the world’s first “totalitarian” state. TICKETS

Part 3 (JUL 22)  The Great Motherland War, 1939-45

Soviet survival in the face of German aggression provided the regime with its most essential legitimizing myth. None of Hitler’s major opponents tried harder to avoid fighting him. None paid a higher price when war proved unavoidable. TICKETS

Part 4 (JUL 29)  The Cold War I: Confrontation, 1945-63

The damage done to the Soviet Union by the Second World War made it wary of direct confrontation with the West. Yet it remained eager to assert itself as a dominant voice on the global stage. The result was a period of considerable danger, as ideological confrontation became married to nuclear arsenals of rapidly increasing destructiveness. TICKETS

Part 5 (Aug 5)  The Cold War II: Stalemate, 1963-85

Having failed to achieved long-sought ascendancy in Europe, the Soviets shifted their efforts toward the developing states of the Third World, an effort complicated by the collapse of relations with China. This period was marked by growing realization that Soviet economic failure was leaving it vulnerable to technologically-driven competition with the United States. TICKETS

Part 6 (Aug 12)  Defeat and Dissolution, 1985-91

Mikhail Gorbachev assumed the leadership of the Soviet Union determined to implement economic and political reforms calculated to restore his nation’s vitality. Instead they encompassed its destruction. Letting go of the Cold War was crucial to the Soviet effort to save itself, but it was not enough—a result that surprised and disconcerted its enemies, and left behind an ideological and moral vacuum that remains unfilled to this day. TICKETS

(AUG 19) A Century of Russian Espionage and Intelligence, 1917-2017

Presented by Bruce Thompson, Ph.D.

Just five weeks after the coup d’etat that brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power in November 1917, they created an “Extraordinary Committee,” the Cheka, to combat counterrevolution and sabotage.  The Cheka became the secret police of the new regime, as well as its first intelligence service.  From the beginning, espionage and intelligence played an outsized role in the Bolshevik regime, which devoted an increasingly large share of resources to the gathering of secret information from other states.  Perhaps no other regime in world history had given so much emphasis to espionage and intelligence operations and with such large consequences.  Even after the Soviet Union expired, its intelligence apparatus survived, as did the mentality and the appetite for clandestine operations that animated it.  This lecture will assess the hypertrophied roles of espionage and intelligence in the Soviet Union and its successor state, the Russian Federation, over the tumultuous course of the past century.  SOLD OUT

TICKETS: $30 per lecture

Purchase tickets online using the TICKETS links above

or call (408) 864-4060 (M – F, 10AM – 6PM)


Daniel J. Moran, Ph.D., is Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Ca. He was educated at Yale and Stanford Universities, and has also been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Dr. Moran teaches courses and supervises doctoral research in strategic theory, American foreign relations, and the history of war and international relations since the end of the 19th century.  

Bruce Thompson, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Departments of History and Literature and the Associate Director of Jewish Studies at U.C.-Santa Cruz, and also teaches at the Institute. He received his Ph.D. in History from Stanford; his areas of scholarly research include European intellectual and cultural history, French history, British Isles history, American history, American Jewish intellectual and cultural history, the history of cinema, and the history of espionage.

Doors open at 6:15 PM before class for wine, goodies, and dessert.

Institute for the Study of Western Civilization

10060 Bubb Road, Cupertino CA 95014