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Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects [Paperback]

Dmitry Orlov
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Feb 2008
In the waning days of the American Empire the US administration finds itself mired in political crisis; foreign policy has come under sharp criticism and the economy is in steep decline. These trends mirror the experience of the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. "Reinventing Collapse" examines the circumstances of the demise of the Soviet superpower and offers clear insights into how we might prepare for coming events. Rather than focusing on doom and gloom, "Reinventing Collapse" suggests that there is room for optimism if we focus our efforts on personal and cultural transformation. With characteristic dry humour, Orlov identifies three progressive stages of response to the looming crisis: Mitigation - alleviating the impact of the coming upheaval; Adaptation - adjusting to the reality of changed conditions; and, Opportunity - flourishing after the collapse. He argues that by examining maladaptive parts of our common cultural baggage we can survive and thrive and discover more meaningful and fulfilling lives, in spite of steadily deteriorating circumstances. This challenging yet inspiring work is a must-read for anyone concerned about energy, geopolitics, international relations and life in a post-Peak Oil world.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (21 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716063
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 15.3 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


.Reinventing Collapse< examines the circumstances of the demise of the Soviet superpower and offers clear insights into how we might prepare for coming events. This challenging yet inspiring work is a must-read for anyone concerned about energy, geopolitics, international relations, and life in a post-Peak Oil world.-The A Word --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dmitry Orlov was born in Leningrad and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the late eighties and mid-nineties. He is an engineer with a BS in Computer Engineering and an MA in Applied Linguistics.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT just another doom-monger book 10 July 2008
There are just too many books about peak oil and other imminent economic, social and ecological crises, which all seem the same. They go over familiar ground and display no new insight or real depth of thought. I'm tired of reading them. Too often the author is a recent convert to these views and lacks the authority or background to contribute anything new, concluding feebly that the reader should learn about gardening and drive a smaller car. Well, duh! as my kids would say.

What a refreshing change to read Orlov's quirky and thought-provoking book which takes the basic premise of looming crisis for granted, and gets straight into delivering his first-hand insight into the collapse of the Soviet economy in a fresh, non-mathematical way (there are no graphs or tables of data) and how most people survived it. Not only that, but all delivered with the wickedly dry wit of a native Russian, living in the USA, who is clearly tired of hearing Americans crowing that they won the Cold War.

To give an example from the introduction, Orlov mentions a survey of Americans which asked, "Will you be able to afford to retire?" (one third said no). Without stopping to go over familiar arguments, Orlov proceeds immediately to strip away the euphemisms and assumptions, and translate the question as "Will you survive when you are too old to work, if not, what are you doing about it?". From his Russian experience, he then adds "Here is a bad solution: get drunk a lot."

Although aimed squarely at an American audience, this book is just as valuable for Europeans, and I recommend it to anyone who realises that our high-consumption, supermarkets-and-jet-planes society cannot last much longer, and is interested in thinking right through what that really means. Orlov treats his readers as intelligent people who will reach their own conclusions, and do not need to be spoon-fed with fatuous recommendations. It's a treat.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This totally essential book covers the territory that no-one is willing to talk about. Once the banks fail (which they almost have) - and the economy fails, what then? This book draws lessons from what happened in the collapse in Russia in the 1990s - and how people did survive. Not always well - but they survived.

I was 3/4 the way through this at midnight and was determined to finish it so drank a double expresso - it's that riveting - for those who do want to know what might happen.

If you don't want to know, look at his blog ClubOrlov, and get really worried about what is likely to be on its way. Then you might want to read it!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting 28 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Struggled to get into this book then found it very interesting. Certainly created plenty of afterthoughts on the way forward for the US economy.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative And Daily More Relevant ! 16 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
States collapse. The Anglo-Saxons have not seen it but Poles have, Germans have three times in one century, Austrians have, Russians have, Yugoslavs have ....and that is just in Europe ! Now Greeks are watching it happen, how long before Belgians and Spaniards see the disintegration ? And the British...well, that day is becoming ever closer especially in The North where transport links to the South are increasingly expensive and congested, and the cost of flying has been deliberately driven to exorbitant levels by taxation.

The State is a Moloch consuming everything, taxing in the open and taxing by stealth with hidden fees on energy and extra-parliamentary taxes through inflation and expropriation of pensions and savings to fund borrowing through "financial repression". The struggle to survive becomes ever more palpable and the fear of personal ruin more evident as corporate and political elites extract ever greater revenues from the Citizen through taxes, inflation, interest levies, and user fees so the elites may live gilded lives of grace and beauty.

When collapse comes it comes by degrees, in 5-stages some say, financial collapse leading to societal collapse, and the absence of coherence or order. Maybe Somalia or Lebanon, or Germany 1923 breaking apart, or simply the slippery slope Britain finds itself on fighting wars it cannot fund or win, repeatedly; invaded by foreigners eligible for taxpayer benefits without allegiance; political parties that cannot inspire to win elections; banks that suck real resources from the economy like some Medieval Church extracting tithes.

Collapse is coming....Orlov suggests how it might be understood
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like Putin funded rant 25 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Makes some valid points about the structural weaknesses of the United States but ultimately descends into something that reads like a Putin funded rant against America. A sadly wasted opportunity because there are lessons from the collapse of the Soviet Union for America and there is every chance that the US will enter into real as opposed to relative decline.

It's a bit like watching Russia Today.
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