12 Best Historical Books about the Soviet Union You Should Read

"Best Historical Books about the Soviet Union" written in front of Building

In this article, we will discuss the 12 best books about the history, culture, politics, geography, relations of the Soviet Union. If you really want to know more about it, add these books to your reading list.

“Anyone who doesn’t regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains.”

Vladimir Putin

The Soviet Union or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a socialist state during in early to the last stage of the 20th century. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991 with the end of the cold war between the USSR and the US. USSR was the largest country in the world that was nominally a federal union of multiple national republics.

The history of the Soviet Union is very interesting. From the beginning to the end of the 20th century, it became evidence of horrific carnage, especially at the time of World War II. The political leaders used it for their own advantages and made it hollow which results in its dissolution. Although the Soviet Union has its glorifying history, some leaders left no stone unturned to discredit it.

If you are a history buff, then you definitely love to know more about a specific place, persons, things, etc. If you want to learn more about the Soviet Union, you’ll probably look for the best books about the Soviet Union. For your convenience and to save your precious time and energy, we are going to discuss the 12 best books about the Soviet Union. These books will give you deep insights into the Soviet Union.

Are you ready to get acquainted with those best books about the Soviet Union?

Okay, let’s get started.

List of Best Historical Books about the Soviet Union

Voices from Chernobyl

AuthorSvetlana Alexievich
Publication2019 (Reprint edition)
Rating4.7 out of 5

Voices from Chernobyl” is one of the best books on the Soviet Union history that contains complete information on the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl. It is situated near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR in the Soviet Union. Through this book, the author described that terrifying sight when many innocent citizens, workers, officials were turned into ashes after burning. It is crucially important and unforgettable work in its emotional power and honesty. So, if you are a history buff or anyone wanting to understand the accident and aftermath of radiation that still persists, read this book.

Red Star over Russia

AuthorDavid King
Rating4.6 out of 5

Red Star over Russia” is also one of the best books on Soviet Union history which can be called a visual history of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the death of Stalin. Mr. David King is a serious collector of early Soviet art, so he collected thousands of posters, photographs, and other paper ephemera from the Soviet Union history and then created this book. The book is basically a catalog of his remarkable collection in which he provides a detailed description of posters as when and where they were taken, what is the history behind them, etc.

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine

AuthorAnne Applebaum
Rating4.7 out of 5

Red Famine“, set in the early to middle 20th century is also one of the best books on Soviet Union history. The book depicts the brutality of that time when the people had chosen the way to death rather than living. How five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR, who was responsible for it, what was doing political parties at that time, where was the world-famous leaders who claimed to be social reformers, the book will force you to think about it. In a nutshell, it is a brilliantly written book about a horrific period of history.


AuthorKen Alibek, Stephen Handelman
Rating4.6 out of 5

Biohazard” is a remarkable book on the biological weapons program of the Soviet Union that describes the story of Russia’s darkest, deadliest, and most closely guarded Cold War secret. This book shows that the Soviets had come to know the future of the world. When all the countries were busy building nuclear weapons, Russia was experimenting with creating new biological weapons relevant to the future. With this advanced weapon, Russia was able to kill lacs of people without direct attack. You will find more information about this program in this book.

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

AuthorWilliam Taubman
Rating4.6 out of 5

Khrushchev” is a great book on historical Russian biographies, Russian history, and relations with US presidents. It provides deep insights into the Russian revolution, civil war, famine, collectivization, industrialization, terror, world war, cold war, Stalinism, post-Stalinism that is the best things about it. The book has much simple but very impactful information about some particular place, person, or incident of the Soviet Union. It is very well-written and researched, you shouldn’t ignore it.

Life and Fate

AuthorVasily Grossman
Rating4.6 out of 5

Life and Fate” is a Russian literature book based on military historical fiction and war fiction. It is set in the world war II period, so you will get much interesting information about that time through this book. The author has done his best to portrait the condition of ordinary Russian families during that terrifying period. It is really a masterpiece looking at the pivotal events of the twentieth century. If you are a history buff, take it as your next destination it will definitely enhance your knowledge up to the next level.

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

AuthorTimothy Snyder
Rating4.6 out of 5

Bloodlands” won several awards and has been translated into more than thirty languages which represent its popularity. It is best-read for German history, European politics, and Jewish holocaust history. The author has highlighted the personality of the two of Europe’s most powerful leaders Hitler and Stalin and also described the relationship between them from the political, geographical, economical perspectives. The author sometimes termed them as the two sides of the same coin. You will definitely learn a lot from this informative book.

Stalin: Waiting for Hitler

AuthorStephen Kotkin
Publication2017 (Reprint edition)
Rating4.6 out of 5

Stalin: Waiting for Hitler” is one of the best books on Soviet Union history that is an excellent read on historical Russian biographies and WWII biographies. The author presented comprehensive details on Joseph Stalin who was a well-known figure in Soviet Union history. The author also highlighted the dictatorial power of Stalin by which he had shed rivers of blood.  The book has depicted the relation between Stalin and Hitler that very few people know about. It is a landmark achievement in the annals of historical scholarship, and in the art of biography.

The Soviet Century

AuthorMoshe Lewin (Reprint edition)
Rating4.5 out of 5

The Soviet Century” is a perfect example to understand radical political thought, and communism & socialism. Instead of offering a comprehensive overview of Soviet history, Lewin focuses on the aspects of the country and its system that have been neglected by previous scholarship. This book is 100 years history of the Soviet era, from 1917 to its fall. The author has discussed here every major incident, decision, status, etc of European countries primarily the Soviet Union within this period. You will not miss out on anything from Soviet history if you take this book.

The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction

AuthorStephen Lovell
Rating4.5 out of 5

As the title suggests that it is a short but excellent introduction to the Soviet Union. The book will provide you the information about the political, geographical, economical status of the Soviet Union from its rising to its fall.  Each topic gets the chronological treatment, taking you from the start of the Revolution through to the dissolution of the USSR. The book also gives deep insights into the cold war and some interesting things about it. Moreover, it provides an up-to-date consideration of the Soviet Union’s impact and what we have learned since its end.

A Failed Empire

AuthorVladislav M. Zubok
Rating4.5 out of 5

A Failed Empire” is one of the best books about the Soviet Union that is primarily dedicated to the cold war between the USSR and the US. The author explained the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites that were responsible for the USSR failure. Through this book, Mr. Vladislav explained how the US defeated the Soviet Union without direct war, what was the condition of politics at that time, what was the impact on the citizen of the Soviet Union after its dissolution, etc.

The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union

AuthorSerhii Plokhy
Rating4.4 out of 5

The Last Empire” is an excellent book about Russian & Former Soviet Union politics, International Diplomacy, and European Politics. It is majorly focused on the Cold War that was initiated between USSR and the US after World War II. The author has presented all ins and outs of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States. The book tries its best to deliver accurate and best information about that time. Moreover, it describes the impact of the cold war on the whole country.


The Soviet Union was formed in 1922 but on 26 December 1991, it was collapsed with the end of the cold war.

During its journey of 69 years from 1922 to 1991, many leaders ruled on the Soviet Union. They are-
• Vladimir Lenin (1922 -1924)
• Joseph Stalin (1924 -1953)
• Georgy Malenkov (1953 - 1953)
• Nikita Khrushchev (1953 - 1964)
• Leonid Brezhnev (1964 - 1982)
• Yuri Andropov (1982 - 1984)
• Konstantin Chernenko (1984 - 1985)
• Mikhail Gorbachev (1984 - 1991)

USSR stands for the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". It was a group of allies of European countries.

On 26 December 1991, when the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was ended, the Soviet Union was looking at its existence. At its place, Russian Federation was born.

Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, and Dmitry Medvedev are Russia’s very popular leaders.

Absolutely safe. But you have to take care of everything yourself. You also need to be aware of the thieves and cons.


I hope, this article must have added value to your life. The books, I have mentioned above are the best books about the history, culture, politics, the cold war, the geography of the Soviet Union. Therefore, if you really want to know more about the Soviet Union, you should take these books without thinking about anything.

I’m 100% sure that this article added value to your life. If I’m not wrong, share it with your friends so that they can also get acquainted with these best books about the Soviet Union. This will be a kind of appreciation for my hard work.

Thank you.

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