My Perestroika

PBS Premiere: June 28, 2011Check the broadcast schedule »

Links & Books


My Perestroika Filmmaker Website
Visit the filmmaker's website to learn more about the film, the filmmaker, cast and crew and upcoming screening events.

My Perestroika on Facebook
Like My Perestroika on Facebook and join the community of fans of the film.

My Perestroika on The Economist Film Project
The Economist Film Project selected My Perestroika to be part of its new initiative with PBS NewsHour. Read related articles from The Economist online.


Soviet Youth Organization

The Christian Science Monitor: "Perestroika For the Pioneers"
This article discusses the post-perestroika role of Soviet youth organizations. (July 21, 1989)

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History: "1924: Young Communists"
This short article discusses the founding of the Komsomol and original recruitment in the 1920s.

Time: "Russia: Reviving the Komsomol"
This Time article about the Komsomol dates back to 1968.

The History of the USSR

Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Everyday Soviet Life
This bilingual website describes life in the communal apartments instituted in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives
The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University runs this website documenting the Soviet Union's large system of forced labor camps.

The Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System Online
The website for this project sponsored by Harvard University includes summary transcripts of 705 interviews with refugees who left the USSR during the early years of the Cold War.

Library of Economics and Liberty: "Perestroika"
This site, which advocates free markets, includes an article on perestroika by economics professor Marshall I. Goldman.

Library of Congress: "Perestroika"
Documents related to perestroika, including translations of selected Soviet documents, appear on this page of the Library of Congress website.

Mosfilms, a Soviet-era film studio, recently posted films from its extensive collection on YouTube. Some of the films have English subtitles.

A resource hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, this portal provides links to a wide variety of information on culture, history, politics, media and scholarship.

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History
This on-line archive offers a variety of primary source materials, including texts, images, maps, audio and video.

The Nation: "Gorbachev on 1989"
Twenty years later, Mikhail Gorbachev reflects on the events of 1989. (November 16, 2009)

Russia at the Barricades: Eyewitness Accounts of the August 1991 Coup, Victoria E. Bonnell, et al., Eds. (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1994)
Victoria E. Bonnell, Ann Cooper and Gregory Freidin edited this collection of accounts of the 1991 coup.

Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia by Melissa Caldwell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004)
Author Melissa L. Caldwell presents a study of social welfare in post-soviet Russia through the perspective of operations at soup kitchens across the country.

The August Coup: The Truth and the Lessons by Mikhail Gorbachev (New York: HarperCollins, 1991)
Mikhail Gorbachev shares his perspective on events leading up to the August 1991 coup and his reflections on lessons learned.

Gorbachev: On My Country and the World by Mikhail Gorbachev (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999)
This trilogy of essays by the former Soviet leader covers topics ranging from the 1917 revolution to the collapse of the Soviet empire, as well as foreign relations.

Perestroika by Mikhail Gorbachev (New York: HarperCollins, 1987)
Mikhail Gorbachev discusses his proposed reforms and the reasoning behind them.

Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 by Stephen Kotkin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
Stephen Kotkin, director of Russian studies at Princeton University, considers why the Soviet elite allowed the USSR to expire quietly rather than defending it militarily.

Conversations with Gorbachev: On Perestroika, the Prague Spring, and the Crossroads of Socialism by Zdenek Mlynar (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002)
Exiled dissident Zdenek Mlynar and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev reflect on their different life trajectories, rise to power in the Communist party and life accomplishments.

Stories of the Soviet Experience: Memoirs, Diaries, Dreams by Irina Paperno (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009)
Irina Paperno provides context for and analysis of first-person accounts of life in the Soviet Union.

Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick (New York: Random House, 1994)
David Remnick describes the fall of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev and Glasnost: Viewpoints from the Soviet Press, Isaac J. Tarasulo, Ed. (Wilmington: SR Books, 1989)
More than two dozen articles from the Soviet press provide viewpoints of the supporters and opponents of Gorbachev's perestroika.

Zhivago's Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia by Vladislav Zubok (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009)
Vladislav Zubok recalls the behavior of Russian intellectuals in the pre-glasnost era.

Cold War Diplomacy

Cold War International History Project
This website provides information about the Cold War and particularly aims to disseminate previously unavailable information.

The Great Cold War: A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors by Gordon Barrass (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2009)
Barrass discusses how lessons learned from the Cold War era can affect policy making in the modern era.

Khrushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali (New York: Norton, 2006)
This work provides insight into Khrushchev's leadership and foreign policy crises in the Middle East, Central Europe and the Caribbean at the height of the Cold War.

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis (New York: Penguin, 2006)
Yale history professor and Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis provides a concise introduction to the Cold War era.

The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine in Soviet Foreign Policy by Matthew J. Ouimet (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001)
Relying on previously unreleased archival documents from Moscow, Ouimet offers perspective on the collapse of the Eastern European communist system and ultimate demise of the Soviet empire.

Dropping the Torch: Jimmy Carter, the Olympic Boycott, and the Cold War by Nicholas Evan Sarantakes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Nicholas Evan Sarantakes explores the diplomatic history behind Jimmy Carter's decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

A Cardboard Castle?: An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991 by Mastny Vogtech and Malcolm Byrne (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2006)
This text investigates the Cold War-era Soviet military complex and how it was perceived by the West.

A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev by Vladislav M. Zubok (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008)
Vladislav M. Zubok surveys the history and motives of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War.


Journey to the Soviet Union by Samantha Smith (Santa Fe: Ocean Tree Books, 2005)
This is a 10-year-old author's account of writing a letter to Soviet President Yuri Andropov in 1982, receiving his response and then traveling to the Soviet Union.

The Post-Soviet Years

The New York Times: "Above The Law"
This multimedia feature with articles by Clifford J. Levy and Ellen Barry examines corruption and abuse of power in Russia following the end of communism. (2010)

Russian Life
This bi-monthly magazine for Russians and Russophiles on life in Russia has been in existence since 1956 and was formerly titled USSR and then Soviet Life.

Museum of Russian Icons
The Museum of Russian Icons, a nonprofit educational institution, was founded in 2006 by Massachusetts industrialist Gordon Lankton. The collection, the largest of its kind in North America and one of the largest private collections outside Russia, includes more than 400 Russian icons and spans six centuries.

Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin: Political Leadership in Russia's Transition, Archie Brown and Lilia Shevtsova, Eds. (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001)
Contributors analyze political leadership during the collapse of the Soviet Union and give insight into the factors that influenced the leadership styles of Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin.

Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War by Stephen F. Cohen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)
Reexamining leaders from Nikolai Bukharin, Stalin's preeminent opponent, to Mikhail Gorbachev and his rival Yegor Ligachev, Stephen F. Cohen challenges conventional wisdom about the course of Soviet and post-Soviet history.

Children of Glasnost: Growing Up Soviet by Landon Pearson (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991)
Landon Pearson shares his experience growing up in the Soviet Union during Gorbachev's reforms. Topics include child development, education, juvenile justice and entertainment.

Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia by David Remnick (New York: Vintage, 1998)
David Remnick describes the new regime in Russia.

After Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain, Stephen K. Wegren and Dale R. Herspring, Eds. (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)
This compilation of analyses by leading scholars covers a wide range of topics about contemporary Russian social, political and security issues.

Midnight Diaries by Boris Yeltsin (London: Orion, 2001)
In this memoir, Boris Yeltsin reflects on his leadership and the search for his successor.

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More by Alexei Yurchak (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005)
Alexei Yurchak considers life during the period of "late socialism" (1950s-1980s) and what made the collapse of the Soviet Union so unexpected to most insiders and outsiders.


"Views and Re-Views: Soviet Political Posters and Cartoons, Then and Now"
This catalogue essay for an exhibit of Soviet posters and cartoons at the David Winton Bell Gallery provides interesting analysis of the use of propaganda during the Soviet era.

Museum of Posters
This bilingual archive site features a large selection of posters that may be searched by creator or subject.

Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters Under Lenin and Stalin by Victoria E. Bonnell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)
Victoria E. Bonnell traces the use of propaganda back to the Bolsheviks.

Posters of the Cold War by David Crowley (London: V & A Publishing, 2008)
This catalogue for an exhibit at London's Victoria and Albert Museum explores the use of posters during the Cold War.

Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture and the Cold War, 1945-1961 by Walter L. Hixson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997)
This book focuses on American propaganda as part of U.S. diplomacy during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and considers how propaganda helped to destabilize the Communist party.

The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-1929 by Peter Kenez (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985)
Peter Kenez offers a detailed look at how the Bolsheviks developed the first propaganda used by the Soviet state.

Red Star over Russia: A Visual History of the Soviet Union from the Revolution to the Death of Stalin by David King (New York: Abrams, 2009)
A heavily illustrated visual history, this volume covers the Soviet Union from 1917 through the death of Stalin.

Soviet Posters: The Sergo Grigorian Collection by Maria Lafont (New York: Prestel Publishing, 2007)
This volume collects Soviet posters.


American Experience: "Biography: Mikhail Gorbachev"
This page covers the life of Mikhail Gorbachev.

American Experience: "People and Events: Joseph Stalin"
This companion website provides an overview of Joseph Stalin's role.

American Experience: "Teacher's Guide: Ronald Reagan, 40th President"
This teacher's guide provides a brief biography of Ronald Reagan.

PBS: "The Face of Russia"
The website for this series offers a comprehensive look at the history of Russia from the Middle Ages to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

PBS NewsHour: "My Perestroika Reveals Personal History of Last Soviet Generation"
Filmmaker Robin Hessman is interviewed.

PBS NOW: "Politics and Economy: Selling War"
This page offers a brief overview of the use of propaganda.

PBS: "Red Files"
This site aggregates information about the Soviet Union.

NPR: "The Volga: Russia's River Of Revolution"
This multimedia feature considers tough times along Russia's Volga River following the collapse of the Soviet Union.